Delegation is a hot topic in most leadership circles. A few weeks ago I was asked to present a keynote for a client of Excel Communications at their annual meeting.
It, therefore, seems like a timely topic to cover for the many managers and leaders who vowed at Christmas that this would be the year they did delegation differently and are yet to start.
Delegation is something we all know we ‘should’ do yet for many of us; myself included, it can still throw up some challenges.
A tour around some of the most successful organisations on the plant and you will see evidence of where this key management skill is demonstrated with passion and commitment.
In an article published last year, Richard Branson the Virgin founder extoled the virtues of delegation. Saying the secret to his success is the people he employs.
“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate,” Richard says. “When my friends and I started up Virgin, I knew that I was lacking vital knowledge on some subjects, and so I started learning this skill very early on in my career.”
It appears that Mr Branson takes this one step further and admits he has never washed clothes in his life and ……..a round of applause for him because neither has his wife since they got married.
In the real world that you and I inhabit, when it comes to delegation here is a reminder why we need to let go of our blocks around delegating to members of our team.
Why do we find it hard?
The evidence is unanimous that delegating to members of our team enables their own empowerment development and corresponding motivation. In addition to freeing up our time for even higher value activities. Yet we still resist. Tell me do any of these reasons ring a bell?
- It is quicker to do it myself.
- A lack of trust that the task will be completed effectively.
- Nobody does it as well as me.
- Fear that someone could do it better than me.
I suspect they do because for many of us we will have experienced these scenarios ourselves or at least know a manager that has.
You have to put this to one side. We have all made mistakes in the past and probably will again. However, there is a process that can work when it comes to getting delegation to work for you, your team and organisation.
How to get it right
The facts are delegation does work provided you;
- delegate to the appropriate person,
- make sure you have a plan and process in place.
When it comes to ‘appropriate’ people, trust is a motivating factor coupled with individuals who have the capability to grow and learn from the experience.
A simple strategy we suggest is to think about who has some level of the skill you are looking for, and/or would benefit from learning additional skills.
If it is a particular project you are considering, who would appreciate having the exposure of working on a successful project?
Remember delegation isn’t just about your internal team. What about other departments in the organisation?
Where challenges happen and what to do about it
Making the assumption that you have identified an appropriate member of your team you will need to support them through the process.
The biggest issue that we have seen is that managers or directors delegate and then abdicate.
The devil really is in the detail and the process. If this is a new project and a different way of working for people they will need your support and guidance. The good news is that it won’t be forever.
As a starting point agree exactly what your involvement and accountability is and then ensure your team members know, in detail, what is expected of them.
In the initial phases make sure you are available for help and support and that you check in on their progress. Show and express verbally your interest on how it’s all going without appearing to be watching over their shoulder; not always easy and yet this is an important part of the process.
Ready to get started?
Rachel Hewitt Hall