In his book, The art of being unreasonableEli Broad, the only person who started two Fortune 500 companies in different industries, said, “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest issues I see with managers at all levels. “
I started supervising others when I was 25 years old. Because I am a Type A workaholic and wanted to put my stamp and personal brand on everything, I found it very difficult to delegate. Finally, my manager sat me down and asked, “Sheryl, is your husband already loading the dishwasher?” Puzzled, I replied, “Well, sure. Why? ”He then asked,“ Does he still do it like you would? ”Now I could see where this conversation was heading.
“Done” is better than “perfect” or your personal idea of perfection. Since this crucial exchange, I have come to understand the importance of not only delegation, but also a leader’s approach to delegating.
If you’re struggling to become comfortable delegating, here are three important questions to consider:
1. What is the source of your hesitation?
Perhaps your hesitation is due to your desire to be in full control. Delegation is one of the most difficult skills to develop as a leader, especially for new managers. New managers know that what has promoted them to leadership is their ability to execute, but being a leader is about getting things done through others. It’s a complete change of mind, shifting from your own motivation and competence to that of others. It is a willingness to relinquish control.
He doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be your way. You just have to do it. Makes perfect beats every time!
Is it a question of guilt? Maybe you’re uncomfortable asking others to do work that you could easily do on your own, or you’re worried that you won’t look busy if you start delegating. Managers and leaders should not be dragged into day-to-day operations. You need to train your team members to manage these areas independently so that you can be called upon to work on larger issues, such as improving departmental processes and collaborating on projects with responsible peers. You can’t work on things that justify your higher pay until you learn how to delegate.
Another common cause of reluctance to delegate is lack of confidence. Do you trust your team? Know that to receive their trust you must extend yours, and as a leader you must take the first step and take risks. In doing so, make sure you always support your people, educate them and recognize that failures will be good times to learn.
Think about how a child learns to tie his shoes. As parents, we help our little ones tie their shoes, but for how long? We’ll end up tying their shoes forever if we don’t teach them how to do it themselves. Wouldn’t we be ashamed if our teenager still couldn’t tie his shoe? At first, it’s hard; the strings of the shoes end in knots and the children in tears. But this failure is part of the learning process.
2. How can you change your mindset?
You need to address your control issues, your guilt, and your lack of confidence in order to overcome them. Change your mindset from seeing delegation as getting others to do work that you could easily do on your own to seeing it as allowing others with less experience than you to gain that experience and continue on their own growth path. Managers cannot rise up without preparing others to take their place, so view delegation as an opportunity for their growth and learning so that you too can continue on your growth path.
3. What and how should you delegate?
Start by making a detailed list of everything that needs to be done. Next to each item, rate them on a scale of 1-3 hearts and 1-3 dollars. Hearts symbolize sympathy. Do you like this part of your job? Is it unique to your ability? In other words, does it have to be you doing it? Dollar signs indicate low, medium and high value projects. Immediately delegate anything that has 1 heart or 1 dollar sign; work to possibly delegate everything that has 2 hearts and 2 dollar signs; items with 3 hearts and / or 3 dollar signs should always stay with you.
Once you’ve figured out what tasks can be delegated, remember that your approach is just as important. Simple courtesies like saying please, sharing your vision, and providing advice make people eager to follow you. Barking orders like a drill sergeant communicates distrust, which stifles creativity and lowers motivation.
It is imperative that a leader does not stand in the way of his people. On the contrary, they should seek to lead them to success. At Culture Spark, we recommend skill and competency-based career paths to our clients as a tool that can provide their employees with a pragmatic menu for what they need to take to the next level. You don’t just want to manage, you want to lead and that involves investing in your people and their future. Delegation offers an excellent opportunity for this.
Dave Ramsey says, “Delegation requires a willingness to pay for short-term failures in order to learn long-term skills. Delegating takes time, often much longer than it would take to do it yourself, but the long-term investment is well worth it. You can make others grow, build relationships and trust, and know you’ve had an impact on their professional growth.