Does the idea of delegating tasks cause you to break out in a cold sweat? Do things always have to be done your way?
Maybe you think you’ve got everything under control, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you can’t delegate. As you climb higher up the ladder at work, you’ll find that doing everything yourself is simply impossible. You’re helming bigger projects and have greater responsibilities. Relying on your team is a must.
Delegating tasks can be a difficult thing to change about how you work, but it will make a big difference in your career — and how you’re perceived as a leader.
Sure, if there’s a project that’s been your baby from the start and you know it inside and out, it makes sense for you to finish it. But most tasks can be assigned to someone else (control freaks, I’m looking at you).
With this in mind, here are 5 inarguable reasons to delegate.
1. It’s not in your job description anymore
You may have loved doing this particular task in your previous position, but you’ve got new tasks to worry about. Doing work that isn’t in your job description distracts you from accomplishing the tasks that should be your priority. It also frustrates employees who are perfectly capable of doing the work – and who should be doing it.
Maybe you’re concerned that things won’t be done “right” unless you do it. Ask yourself if this is a case of you wanting things done “your way” or whether your employees truly don’t have the skills to complete the task successfully. If it’s the latter, then a coaching conversation is in order.
But if you just want things done your way, you need to loosen up. Take a deep breath and let your employee take on a project. Do give them advice and offer help if they get stuck or have questions, but don’t try and make them do it your way.
Give your employees the chance to show you what they can do – because when you give employees room to shine, it reflects well on you, too.
2. It’s your job to develop people
Remember the best manager you ever had? The one who encouraged you to take on new challenges and then helped you meet those challenges? As a manager, it’s your job to develop people.
Sure, it may be easier in the short-term to just do a task yourself, rather than develop the skills of your employees. But that just expands your workload, and leaves employees with few challenges or opportunities to learn new skills. Those employees likely won’t stick around long.
Great managers leaders are the ones who have an eye on long-term as well as short-term goals. They’re focused on bringing out the best in employees, and helping them work on areas that they’re not as strong in. Great leaders also listen to their employees. They help employees take on more responsibility and develop skill needed to advance their careers.
Yes, great employees get noticed. Managers who are known for developing great employees get noticed, too.
3. Your employees don’t think you trust them to get the job done
The most important thing a supervisor can do is micromanage everything their employees do – said no one, ever. Yes, if a certain protocol or procedure needs to be followed, you need to ensure employees comply, and that they understand why it’s so important that things be done a certain way.
But if you’re constantly hanging over employees’ shoulders, you’re not sending them a good message. Trust is essential in the manager-employee relationship, and nothing kills trust like micromanaging. If you want your team to put their faith in you, you need to believe in them.
This is a challenging balance, as you need to give regular communication and feedback, while giving employees the freedom to bring their particular strengths to the task. Get that balance right, and you’ll build a team where people aren’t afraid to take on a leadership role because they know they have the support of their managers.
4. You've got too much on your plate
So you've created a great team where employees are challenged but still have the feedback and support they need. You’re swamped with work, so you can just leave them to their own devices, right? Nope. You still need to check in with employees to make sure projects are on the right track.
This could take the form of regular one-on-one meetings, team meetings, or even an online project management system. No matter how busy you are, there’s always time for a 5-minute check-in. Just a quick update can help catch issues before they snowball into larger problems.
Great managers help set their employees up for success, and then keep working to maintain that success. No matter how heavy your workload is now, it will be even worse if an employee’s project completely falls off the rails and you have to drop everything to get it back up and running.
5. You want to foster a collaborative work environment
You’ve heard this saying thousands of times: there is no “I” in team. It gets repeated a lot because it’s true, and also because most people need to be reminded of that fact every once in a while. Big projects are usually divided up amongst multiple people, with many elements that need to be completed. For everything to work smoothly, every member of the team has to be working together towards a common goal.
Picture a rowing crew. Everyone is in the same boat, they've got a common goal – winning the race – and that can’t happen unless everyone is working together. If people don’t know the goal of a project, if they can’t see how their input is essential to the final product, they aren't going to fully invest in it.
By delegating tasks you help ensure everyone on your team knows what they are contributing to the project and that their work matters. Constructive feedback, including praise when it’s due and advice when efforts fall short, helps ensure your employees are invested in making your project a success.
Simply put, delegation is an essential leadership skill
Knowing how essential it is to delegate tasks is only half the battle. Putting theory into practice can be difficult, but it’s well worth the effort. So start delegating and create a team that you can really be proud of. You’ll create great employees, help to develop future leaders, and become a better leader yourself.