Why delegating tasks will help you stay on top of your game.
Today, I want to talk about one of the key aspects of being a successful manager.
As you probably already found out, a big chunck of your daily work is distributing all the jobs -big and small- that land on your desk. It’s EXTREMELY important to learn how to get most of them off your plate ASAP. If you don’t, chances are you’ll feel the need to start doing these tasks yourself.
And that is a major risk. Because having all these specific tasks on your to-do-list will start consuming your available time. You’ll be focused on ‘production’ instead of building the longer term strategy and leading your team.
Soon, that’ll start to show. Your boss will ask you a few questions you cannot answer. Of course, you’ll work a bit harder to not let that happen again. And before you know it, you’ll be in a horrible cycle of putting in more hours every week to a not diminishing pile of work – yaiks!
Delegating tasks saved me
When this happened to me, I was in my second management job. I was leading a very exciting department and I had tons of responsibilities. My team was instable to say the least: my reports were either good, but home sick or about to be, or they were not so great at all.
Within two months I was working as if my life depended on it. I was making ridiculous hours hoping to cope. New files were added on my desk every day, and I just had no idea where to leave them. It was there and then that I took my first steps towards delegation.
It was either that or drown.
What is delegating?
Delegation is a way of working with one or more of your team members, where you give that person the authority and responsibility to do something that is normally part of your job.
You’re actually delegating authority ‘down the ladder’: effective delegation allows people to make decisions on their own. This means that effective delegation is very different from just assigning tasks to your reports.
This doesn’t mean you’re delegating the ultimate responsibility and accountability.
The biggest challenge for me when I realized I needed to delegate, was that proper delegation isn’t particularly easy and it takes –quite some– time before it starts to pay off. That means that when you need it the most (when you’re half sunk), starting to delegate is not really an option (If this is happening to you now, it’s probably not too late yet! Continue reading & also check out my offering on succesful delegation).
This is why I advice you to start delegating as soon as you leave the first two weeks on the job behind you.
When done right, delegation has a lot of benefits. It’ll make your job more exciting and easier at the same time and it creates time and mental space to focus on what you should be doing (strategy, new ideas + approaches and leading the team).
For your employee, the benefits are even greater: it provides professional growth opportunities, it improves knowledge and skills. And it can elevate their self-image and confidence and grow their value to the organization. (These are all great benefits you would not want to deny someone, especially when this means less work for you, right?!)
Many managers hesitate to delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort.
And even though that is very understandable, it is vital that you’ll get into it. It’ll get easier every time you do it because you’ll learn and your employees start to improve their skills.
How to delegate
In my next post, I’ll give you my five steps to delegating with confidence.
To not leave you empty handed here, I’ll give you the basics of the first step right away:
Be super smart about what tasks to delegate
When you start thinking about delegating, the first thing that comes up is the question what project or task would be suitable to delegate.
The key factor here is TIME. For delegation to be effective, always (and especially when you’re just starting out) pick a project or task that doesn’t have to be finished tomorrow or even next week. You’ll need time to select the person who’s going to do the job and spend some time to prepare him/her for it. After that, he/she has to get the job done properly, which will probably take them about twice the amount of time it would have taken you (if this is the first time they do anything like this).
Also consider if there’s enough time available to send your report back to the drawing table if the job isn’t done properly.
And get it straight what the consequences would be, if the job isn’t finished on time.
Another angle to the ‘what’ question is, whether this is a task that you really can delegate. Don’t forget that tasks critical for long-term success (think: recruiting the right people for your team) need your attention and not someone else’s.
Start making your life easier by selecting up to 3 tasks on your to-do-list that can be delegated. After that, please post the delegating tasks in the comments below.
We’ll go from there next week.
Also, to really get going with delegating and starting to make your work easier right now, we can work together on a specific project or task you want to delegate. For that, just check out my offering on delegating tasks effectively.
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