Do You Struggle With Delegating?
Delegation is a skill that many business leaders want to improve. We see leaders on all ends of the spectrum. On one end are those that delegate through abdication, where the control and result is left entirely up to the employee completing that task. This often leads to incomplete tasks, results that are not what the business needs, and upset leaders.
On the other end of the spectrum are leaders who hang on to tasks that should be delegated, because they don’t trust their team to get it done. Often these leaders have tried to delegate, but when it didn’t go well they took the tasks back and stopped trying. Close to this end are those that delegate tasks, but spend so much time micromanaging that the benefits of delegation are lost. And the culture of the business suffers.
Delegation is a balancing act. On one hand you have to let go, but on the other, the vision and result that has to be achieved must come from you. It must be what the business needs. How the task is accomplished must be in line with your culture. There has to be a collaboration.
Delegation is a skill, but it’s also a process. A process with definable elements that when used consistently will bring consistent results. When working with our clients on delegation, we provide them with a delegation form. A step-by-step process that when followed creates a consistent and successful ability to delegate tasks (and is an excellent start to a documented system). It’s not unusual for clients to first object to the form. We hear objections such as:
- It takes too long to fill out
- This should be common sense
- I want a team that does this on their own
- I know this won’t work with my employees
The truth is delegation is a vital part of leadership. Equally vital is having documented work processes that ensure employees can achieve the right results consistently. You can’t always do it on your own. Your job as a leader is to get the best out of those you lead. Delegation is a skill you must conquer. Creating a process for what is delegated ensures that your communication is clear and consistent. If, after implementing a process, you still experience issues with delegation, then you might have an employee issue. And yes, we have a great process for navigating employee issues.
But first you should ensure that your process for delegation is top notch. Make sure that you’ve done everything in your ability to delegate and empower your team to take ownership of a task.
Every task delegated should have:
- A clear result: One that the person taking ownership of the task can paraphrase in their own words.
- Standards: Identify the standards for doing the task that you want others to honor, such as; quality, quantity, timing, and communication.
- Set times to check in: Set it and forget it is a nice phrase, but it’s not leadership. It’s abdication.
- An agreement: Delegation isn’t a one-way process. If the person you are delegating has a conflict or too much on their plate, they need to be empowered to speak up. It doesn’t mean they won’t be asked to complete the task, but first the barriers they see need to be addressed.