Posted: Mon 2nd Dec 2019
Delegation can be one of the hardest things to get right, especially for a first time leader – someone who has grown their business to the stage of taking on staff.
Reluctance to delegate
The ability to get things done through others is essential for good leadership. Time and time again I meet with leaders who talk to me about how busy they are, no work life balance, however they are reluctant to delegate.
In my experience many leaders fail to delegate because they are unwilling or unable to let go or because they lack faith in other people's abilities.
Of course, some leaders are simply scared that the person they have delegated to will do a better job than them. Other reasons not to delegate include:
Liking to give an impression of being overworked and busy
Believing you can do it more quickly or better yourself
Enjoying the work
Difficult employees who resist delegation
When you finally choose to delegate, it is essential to follow the right steps.
The delegation cycle
Before you enter the cycle, ask yourself one simple question: Am I the right person to do this job?
If the answer is no then follow the process below.
Ensure that you define the task you are going to delegate. Explain as clearly as possible your expectations of quality, time and money
Decide which person you plan to delegate to. Are they available? Do they have the time?
Do they require additional training to do this delegated task? Do they understand what needs to be done?
Take the time to explain to the person why you are delegating the task.
State the boundaries and parameters involved. Explain budget or approval levels. Agree on review dates. Give them enough creative freedom to do the task though - remember the best leaders ask and don't tell.
Confirm that the individual accepts the delegation and don't assume that they have accepted the task without agreement. Now let the person do the task without your involvement – beware of micromanagement or reverse delegation.
Make sure you inform all other stakeholders about the delegation. This sends a clear message that the task is no longer your responsibility.
This should be ongoing, not just at the end of the task. Make sure that you let the person know how they are getting on and remain available to the person should they have any queries.
Delegation is an obvious way of releasing more time. Delegation is not a quick fix but it is an astute long term investment of time. If you practise delegation, you will become better at it and you will find it to be one of your most valuable leadership skills.