Are you a good delegator?
As leaders and business owners, our tasks are endless - and range from crucial to trivial.
There are a few things only we can do. What if we delegated the rest?
Here are some helpful actions:
How are you really spending your time? Take a few minutes to reflect on your week and do a rough pie chart of how you spend your working hours. Then draft a pie chart for how you would spend your time “in a perfect world.” The items that didn’t make it to the second chart probably need to be delegated (or done more efficiently.)
Delegate to yourself.
Sounds weird, but sometimes that mental framework can speed up our productivity on the trivial or routine. For items you’d like to delegate to someone else but can’t, give yourself a clear task and purpose and a set amount of time. Protect that time so that you aren’t pulled into other obligations.
Be prepared to coach.
In an article in Harvard Business Review, Sabina Nawaz calls it a “dream” to expect instant success when we delegate a task. She says, “Delegation is a shared task,” as we’ll need to invest time in coaching until the team member is proficient. It’s a common peril for leaders to give a task and walk away - expecting success to magically appear with no further involvement. It’s no coincidence that the Army’s 8 Troop Leading Procedures conclude with “Supervise.”
This is closely related to the previous action above. I was once preparing for a high-risk assignment overseas, and my direct reports gathered to give me some feedback. They wanted more latitude to make mistakes. As they described the problem, I realized they also wanted assurance that I wouldn’t crush them when they made those mistakes. It was good feedback.
When learning new tasks or taking initiative, team members will make mistakes. Endorse those mistakes. It’s worth it.
When internal options are limited, look outside. In building a website, I first tried my own hand at it. I quickly saw my limitations - both creative and time. It also occurred to me that if I encouraged clients to hire an outsider consultant, I should take my own advice. So I outsourced. Several years later, conscious of cost as a business owner, I tried upgrading the site on my own. Again, I eventually outsourced (to Open Path Digital) and have been quite pleased with the results.
“There’s an app for that.” Years ago, Siri became a top performer when I discovered the advantage of verbally adding calendar appointments. I’ve also found Calendly an efficient way to coordinate with clients for appointments. A minimal amount of time researching current apps can have a great ROI. (Example lists here and here.)
Delegation should always be viewed in light of the development and empowerment of our teams. We may delegate tasks, but it’s shortsighted to see any team member as only “making my life easier.” As leaders, we have the opportunity and obligation to develop our team members, helping them grow far beyond where they are today.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels