WHY YOU STRUGGLE TO LET GO
First of all, as a new manager, it’s challenging to transition from doing everything yourself to delegating work and leading a team. Even if you don’t have employees, as an early stage business owner you may struggle to let go and outsource work to external providers. And you get stuck working ‘in’ your business, instead of ‘on’ it.
Also, delegation challenges stem from a deep, anxiety based fear of letting go. Or, the need to take charge and have control over everything. You may secretly fear being controlled by others or maintain control to avoid vulnerability or rejection.
You believe no-one else can do the work as well as you. Or, it’s simply easier to do everything yourself. In some cases, the desire for competition or challenge drives the need to control. Consequently, this leads to micro-management or direct communication which may intimidate or frustrate others, negatively impacting team relationships.
COSTS OF CONTROL
As a new leader, you’re given greater responsibility and more complex work. If you fail to delegate tasks you no longer need to handle, your workload will grow. Time management will become a challenge and your workload unsustainable. This leads to stress, overwhelm and potential burn-out.
The desire to control also keeps you small. It stops you expanding your business or client base, learning new skills or developing professionally. Instead, you stay in your comfort zone.
Additionally, poor delegation frustrates your team. Perfectionism is the root cause of the belief no-one can do a task as well as you. Your desire to oversee everything holds up projects and micro-management can aggravate staff.
BENEFITS OF DELEGATION
Letting go of control and learning to delegate frees up your time. This allows you to remove any tasks you’re not good at and don’t enjoy. The energy draining work you procrastinate over. As a result, you’ll improve time management, take on fulfilling work and complex tasks to develop professionally.
Above all, delegation is an essential skill of effective leadership. It increases productivity, performance and gives your team the opportunity to learn new skills. And therefore, helps you build more effective relationships with staff members.
HOW TO DELEGATE
STEP 1 – NOTE DOWN ALL YOUR TASKS
Before you can identify what to delegate, firstly you need to understand what those tasks are.
Start by taking stock of exactly how you’re spending your time.
Make a list of all the tasks you complete on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
STEP 2 – DECIDE WHAT TO DELEGATE
Ask yourself – what can I delegate?
Start with tasks you don’t enjoy, anything outside your zone of genius or responsibilities beyond the scope of your role. Carefully consider what you really need to do, versus tasks you can give to someone else.
If you’re only starting to develop your delegation skills, begin with smaller tasks first and build from there.
STEP 3 – CREATE A PROCESS
Outline a process with clear, repeatable steps. Be sure to give distinct guidelines.
Once you’ve created this process, it will be there to use in future. This will come in handy if your current team member is promoted or ever decides to move on.
STEP 4 – DECIDE WHO TO DELEGATE TO
Next, assign the responsibility to someone. Who can you delegate this task to?
Rather than delegating based on capacity, select the team member with the skills and strengths required for a specific task. Or, the provider best qualified to do the work.
Choose the right person for the job and delegate to them consistently.
STEP 5 – EFFECTIVELY DELEGATE & COMMUNICATE
To start, delegate the task, setting clear expectations around deadlines and milestones. Be sure to outline the process, give explicit instructions and communicate expectations upfront.
Also, don’t micro-manage! Check in or follow-up at regular, agreed intervals but leave the person to get on with the job. This builds trust within the relationship and encourages the individual to become proactive and self-sufficient.
So often, when a project isn’t delivered to a reasonable standard, effective communication is usually missing. Expectations haven’t been addressed from the start or discussed along the way.
Committing to effectively delegating and communicating upfront will save you plenty of time and stress later.
STEP 6 – TRAINING & FEEDBACK
Effective delegation requires you to invest in developing others. Be realistic that training takes time. Depending upon the individual and task, this could take a couple of weeks, to a few months or more. Investing upfront to train team members in your process saves time in the long run. As they learn, you can gradually start to delegate more.
Training creates engagement and buy-in from employees who want to grow and be developed. Each person is also trained in your method, ensuring tasks will be completed on time and up to standard.
Finally, feedback is crucial. Provide support and feedback, including both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. This is how your team or providers will develop and improve.
Encourage them to be proactive, by figuring it out themselves first but asking for help if needed. Then make sure you’re available to provide feedback.
Feedback from your team is also important, so you can keep refining and developing your delegation skills. Ask for feedback and be open to implementing any necessary changes.
Learning how to delegate takes plenty of time and practice, but delegation is a critical leadership skill to master. Implementing this strategy has helped my clients and I let go of control, learn to effectively delegate and become better leaders. I hope these tips support you too.