Don’t Wait, Delegate!: Remove Another Barrier To Leadership

Have you heard that the delegation of workplace tasks benefits both the delegator and the recipients of the tasks? We have, and we believe it.  So why are managers reluctant to delegate more? From the perfectionist excuse of “if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself”, to the punctuality excuse of “in the time that it takes to explain it to someone else, I could simply do it myself”, we can get pretty creative about re-framing the delegation argument.

Let’s face it, we like to do familiar tasks that we’re good at. It maintains our sense of confidence. And in digging a bit deeper, I’ve discovered a factor behind “delegation denial” that characterizes it as something more than just a need to be needed and a fear of ‘being found out’. While preparing for a DRIVEN webinar about procrastination this winter, it became clear that the reluctance to delegate is actually a form of procrastination! Think about it: If you define procrastination as a fear of stretching out of your comfort zone, wouldn’t that apply directly to refusal to delegate?

If all of this delegation denial business is beginning to sound like it applies to you, don’t feel ashamed; you’re far from alone, and you’re very close to a solution!

It’s All About Baby Steps

Entice yourself to take on the delegation challenge by looking to the other side. In other words, imagine the delegation “big picture”, which includes the benefits it holds for you, for the task recipients, for the company, and for the future. To begin, imagine what you could be doing with you time if you were relieved of the tasks at hand. Then, envision what new skills you will learn by not being tied down to performing the old ones. If you don’t psyche yourself out, you will start to feel comfortable with the notion of delegating, and you’ll be fully geared-up to make your move.

ROI: Substantial!

The general rule of delegation is this: If someone else can do the job 80% as well as you can, they should be the one to do it. With this in mind, start by making a list of all of the plates you juggle. Consider which of these plates someone can effectively juggle for you versus the ones that you-and-only-you should be taking on. Then, carve out the time to meet with the potential task recipient and explain to them the big picture including the details of the tasks, the expectations, and maybe even a few of your own tricks for getting them done properly and in the timeliest manner. After the first few delegations, you should review the outcomes with them. Along the way, remind them that you’re there to support their efforts, and encourage them to keep you posted about their successes. I bet you’ll learn a trick or two from them! Before you know it, they will be flying solo, and the return on your time investment will start to reach 100%!

Further Reading

To get a feel for what others are saying about the importance of workplace delegation, Here are links to some of my favorite articles. For instance, the Park Scholarships website smartly lists the numerous ways in which the lack of delegation can create barriers for your progress and that of and your colleagues. By playful contrast, People First takes a more laid-back look at the silly reasons why we refuse to delegate. Both are quick and insightful reads.