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Can your managers manage delegation? Part 2

Continuing our delegation… Part One offered up a clear definition of delegation, and laid down a few ‘golden’ rules. Here in Part Two, we’ll look at the potential pitfalls and factors that might make a manager reluctant to delegate and then the long list of benefits that the manager stands to gain if only they can.

Pitfalls to be wary of when delegating

We’re all busy (a good reason to delegate!) and even with the best of intentions to delegate appropriately and supportively, it’s all too easy to commit one or more of the following ‘bloopers’:

  • You don’t follow up when you say you will.
  • You're not specific enough as to what you need in terms of outcomes.
  • You don’t communicate the task’s importance in business/organisational terms.
  • You haven’t checked if they have the time to do the delegated job.
  • You don't have enough time to explain what to do.
  • Having delegated, you interrupt them constantly with other, less urgent stuff.
  • Once it's done you don’t review the lessons learnt.
  • You don’t acknowledge/praise their success.

Really, these pitfalls can be summarised as ‘bad management’ in a delegation context. And as such, the remedies for each are fairly obvious – better diary management, clearer and more detailed communication, don’t set them up to fail, etc.

Are you delegation-phobic?

The cliché is: if you want something done right, do it yourself. But that’s strictly for the movies. In the workplace, a manager who doesn’t delegate ends up overworked, isolated, and not particularly respected. If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions you might be reluctant to delegate

  1. Do you like to hold on to the tasks you feel comfortable with?
  2. Do you find yourself working on non-priority work at the expense of the really important tasks?
  3. Do you work late or take work home often?
  4. Do you find that at the end of the day, you’re not sure where the time went?
  5. Do you find it difficult to tolerate mistakes and errors?
  6. Do you sometimes feel frustrated that your people don’t think for themselves?
  7. Do you find it difficult to rely on other people?
  8. Do you sometimes redo work done by your staff/people to make sure it is ‘right’?
  9. Do you think it’s important to present yourself as a tireless, hard worker?

And yet, these are not uncommon traits. In some workplaces they might even be seen as praiseworthy. So, why delegate?

Benefits to the manager of delegating

Time. Simply put, delegating gives you more time. What could you use that time for? How about:

  • You can eat a proper lunch.
  • You can go home on time once in a while (or more often!).
  • You can sit back and be more strategic.
  • You can plan better – for the short, medium and long-term.
  • You can anticipate problems instead of just addressing them when they arise.
  • Self-development – you can boost your own skills and knowledge.
  • Others’ development – you can coach or otherwise train other people in your team.
  • Have some interesting and developmental work delegated to you.

You want more? A consistent policy of (appropriate) delegation gives you a better, more skilled and self-reliant team. They can cover each other for absences when somebody is on leave or sick or away on a training course. They can stand in for you when you’re not there. They’re more engaged with what the organisation is trying to achieve because they understand it better, having seen your perspective. And ultimately, their engagement boosts effectiveness, productivity and profit.

Furthermore, you’ll be less stressed. By being more in control of your time, and secure in the knowledge that everything that needs doing is being done, you can ease the ‘treadmill effect’ – the feeling that you are constantly going in circles without making any progress.

You’ll also have a better reputation: your immediate team seeing you as someone who shares interesting work and trusts and supports them to do it; and your colleagues and managers in the wider organisation seeing you working more efficiently and achieving better results with less effort.

Hopefully, between these two posts, we’ve made a case for delegation done well. Just remember the golden rules from Part One…

  1. Choose the right task and match it to the right person.
  2. Delegate, Don’t Abdicate.
  3. Take the time to bridge the skills gap.
  4. Let go.
  5. Trust them and then help them deserve that trust.
  6. Whatever you promise to do, do it.
  7. Use your extra time wisely.
  8. Be pleased if they do a better job of it than you – take some credit (but only a little).
  9. Remember to review and show your appreciation for effort.
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