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Summary: Delegation can be tricky because you’re toeing a line between knowing things are going to be done well without doing them all yourself or micromanaging.
We all know that delegation is important to any position, from the bottom of the corporate ladder to the CEO. In fact, you may have said that delegation is one of your strengths during your last job interview. But are you really taking advantage of the talents of those around you? Are you delegating in the most efficient, productive and supportive way possible? Delegation can be tricky because you’re toeing a line between knowing things are going to be done well without doing them all yourself or micromanaging.
Many people struggle to delegate in the first place because we often want to be in control, especially if it’s something that is going to reflect on our own skills and abilities. We like to know everything that is going on, we like to make the decisions and we like to do things our way. We also inherently struggle to trust other people because, time and time again, others, as all imperfect humans do, have failed us in various aspects of our lives.
Delegation, however, is absolutely necessary if you want your organization to grow. We can’t do everything that needs to get done on our own. As your position becomes higher up and the jobs get bigger, delegation becomes more and more important to your job and your company. There’s a reason that you manage other people: they are there to help you do what needs to be done. If you could do it all yourself, they wouldn’t be there.
One common complaint around delegation is that people don’t feel they have enough time to even take part in the process. They complain that it takes longer to explain to someone else how to do something and then make sure it gets done than to just do it all themselves. While it may take less time for you to do it yourself, that’s time that you could be using to do something that only you can do. Also, once you actually invest the time in training someone, they’ll be able to get it done more efficiently the next time around. What’s left is the time you have to truly execute the tasks you do well.
Another complaint is that people are afraid that they will delegate themselves out of a job. If everyone else can do all of your tasks for you, then why are you even necessary? Don’t worry, they still need you. The competency of those to whom you delegate reflects well on your management skills. You’re there to oversee, answer questions, make sure everyone is organized and knows what they’re doing, and do the big picture strategizing, which is critical to running an organization.
So what kind of work should you consider delegating to others? First and foremost, get rid of the busy work. These are all of the tasks that are necessary, but don’t take much thinking or strategizing. This is something that can be trimmed first from your list. Secondly, and more importantly, delegate the things that you’re not as good at completing. Need to work on your company’s social media strategy but feel that you actually don’t know much about social media platforms? Find someone who does and is passionate about it. This kind of delegation will save you a lot of time and error in trying to figure it out yourself. Other types of tasks to delegate are ones that you ultimately want your team to learn. If people have never done something before, train them and then let them give it a try. Even if it’s something you still want to do for the most part, it’s good to know you have back up if you’re busy doing something else.
The key to delegation is to delegate to the right people and to build trust up over time. Start with smaller, less important tasks and as they prove themselves, give them more responsibility. However, remember that people will mess up. Allow them to learn from their mistakes and give them a second chance. While some people may not be right for the job, others will prove to be essential to your work and goals.
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