Some leaders have a challenge in delegating. Others delegate with no concerns. Which side are you on? Although I am writing this blog to support entrepreneurs and business development, this blog is also applicable for many ‘every-day’ situations like a parent delegating clearning chores to their kids or a spouse delegating finance duties to their partner.
First, I wanted to write a bit more about the groups who delegate and those who don’t.
If you have the challenge of delegating, what might be the concerns?
Answers I hear frequently are twofold:
- Out of concern for others i.e. their workload
- Lack of trust in others’ capabilities to do the task. It is faster if I do it.
On the other side, those who have no challenge delegating:
- I’m too busy. I’ll give it to my minions. Phew, it is off my plate.
- I don’t like this specific task so I’ll give it away (doesn’t fit my aspirations or it’s simply too boring).
Yes, I am deliberately leaving out our well-intended reasons for delegation. There are many of course. And the not-so-positive intentions listed above can be addressed in one very broad, yet highly effective approach:
Start with the right attitude. Delegate to elevate your team
‘Team’ here can be your work colleagues or outside work such as your family. The intention of delegating for the team’s elevation is in direct comparison to your own: if delegation is done to elevate your success or your interests, it may not be the best outcome in the long run. You won’t benefit from strong buy-in of a delegate nor being able to free up your time for more productivity.
On the other hand, if you delegate in order to elevate the team’s success, you accomplish the following:
- Building your team’s skill levels,
- Distributing the team’s work in a way that supports every member of the team,
- Empowering the team to achieve more together
- Fostering growth for each team member, which generally supports a stronger team.
With this attitude or approach, we create a multitude of wins:
We elevate our team’s skills. A colleague who wasn’t familiar with project management will now have a chance to grow thanks to the assigned task. Delegation done right, it has now successfully elevated the colleague’s skill.
She is happy to have tackled her first project management assignment and learnt some important skills.
You now as a leader don’t have to do all of the project management in the future.
This allows you to spend time on business development that you may have been postponing for some time.
What’s the final outcome of all this? The team’s overall success.
A leader who is concerned about her team’s workload and decides to manage a project herself will miss out on building the team up the way the elevator-delegator leader was able to.
Delegation can be simply the distribution of work, which may not involve new learning. Well-distributed, however, the process will still elevate the team’s efficiencies and sense of value, as it is likely to position each member in the right (productive, useful, contributing) place.
Imagine a highly paid world-renowned soccer striker who is constantly asked to play defense. Is that a good use of his time and the team’s resources?
A $150/hour paid consultant spending many hours chasing documentation, which could be done by an administrative staff member at $18/hr is another good example of the work distribution not done right. Delegation of the work may improve the consultant’s productivity.
Who is best suited for this specific task in comparison to other tasks that also need to get done?
There is misplaced loyalty or team spirit when a director spends the majority of her time doing other people’s work but her own.
The question here is what important task you are not doing because you are doing another task that could be delegated in order to elevate the Steam’s success long-term.
One last thing to add here for solopreneurs or micro team operations: delegation is available outside your organization. It may manifest as a virtual assistant or in short-term contracts. Reaching outside your organization supports a larger community while at the same time benefitting your productivity.
So what is a good effective process for delegating new tasks/projects to our teams?
The next blog discusses these steps.