If you are like a lot of other competent and self sufficient people, you may think that no one else can do certain tasks or jobs better than you. This can be especially true for managers and team leaders in the work place as well as mothers at home. In such cases, you may feel that you know exactly what you want and how best to do it. There is a very common saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." While this attitude is great, the problem with this logic is that for a small list of tasks this might be manageable, but as the task list grows you will never ever be able to stay on top of things. You have two choices. You can continue on by working longer and harder but eventually the workload will become just too great resulting in feeling totally overwhelmed and stressed. Or alternatively you can learn to delegate tasks to others.
So why exactly don't you like delegating? Here are some common reasons.
- There is no one else that can perform the task.
- There is a risk that the even though the task will be completed, mistakes will be made.
- There is no else that can complete the task quickly enough.
- There is a concern of shirking off of responsibilities.
- Delegating may require investing precious time in another individual.
These reasons may be valid but there are many benefits to delegating work. Firstly by delegating, you will not be overwhelmed with tasks which means the tasks you do choose to perform will be done well. Trying to take on too much can result in less than satisfactory outcomes. Secondly, by delegating, you have an opportunity to work on higher priority tasks which can actually strengthen your position in an organisation. Thirdly, by sharing the work around, you give others the chance to potentially learn new skills and take on more responsibility. This means as people grow underneath you, you will naturally be pushed higher up in the company. It also means that you will be seen as a good manager that gets good results from your team, making you a likely candidate for future promotion.
When delegating, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. If you are new to delegating, you can start small by farming out easy tasks. This will minimize the amount of time you need to spend with the individuals, reducing the learning curve and chance of mistakes. For larger tasks, pick the person who you think is capable and willing to learn. You will have to accept that the person may need some time to be trained and initially require close supervision. This is best viewed as an investment of your time that will eventually consume less and less of your time as the individual becomes more competent in the task - that is, short term pain for long term gain.
To ensure the task is completed successfully, set clear expectations and deadlines. While you will define the required outcome, ensure the individuals are given enough scope to work autonomously, promoting creativity in thinking and approach to the task. You will also need to be clear about the level of authority the individuals have in order to get the job done, that is stipulate whether other people can be hired as well as any budget limits. Most importantly you will need to define the key performance indicators (KPI) that will be used to measure the performance of the individuals and quality of the outcome.
Throughout the entire task, or project, keep following up with the individuals until the task has been completed. This will ensure that larger tasks do not go off the rails. If you maintain an open mind, you may just find there is indeed a better way of doing some things compared to how it had been done in the past. Finally let the individuals, YOUR TEAM, know when they have done good work. If certain things could have been done better, suggest an alternative in an encouraging manner. By building their self confidence, it is more likely they will complete the task more efficiently and to higher standard next time.
As you can, the art of delegation is an extremely important skill to have as you rise up in an organisation and even at home. It allows you to manage your ever increasing workload concentrating on the most important tasks at hand. Potentially it can significantly reduce the stress associated with your role at work or at home, while increasing the responsibility and level of enjoyment of those under you as they take on new tasks.