If you want something done right, do it yourself.
Itll take too long to explain.
Employees wont be happy if I ask them to do this.
Do these excuses sound familiar? Many managers will recognize these thoughts when considering whether to pass along a task. After all, you rose to the top because of your ability to get the job done. Employees that promote through the ranks were often technical experts before becoming managers, and youre probably right that you can get the job done faster and quicker than your subordinatesat least initially. But you cant do it allat some point a manager has to trust his or her subordinates to get the job done, otherwise productivity will grind to a halt.
Delegation can be one of the trickiest parts of management. Even highly respected, long term managers admit they struggle with assigning tasks and responsibilities. Ultimately, the manager is responsible for the outcome, so its natural to want to remain heavily involved in the process. But staying so involved isnt necessarily conducive to a positive outcome.
Managers frequently make one of the following critical mistakes when delegating:
Micromanaging Because you were the technical expert for years, its quite possiblemore than likely, in factthat you know an effective, speedy way to get the job done. But hovering over subordinates to ensure they perform the job exactly to your specifications wont help. Allowing staff to make their own mistakes is a faster way for them to learn. If you give directions every step of the way, itll be hard for workers to take on the task in future without depending on you to guide them. And just because you do things one way doesnt mean a different approach is wrong. In fact, new ideas might help to streamline the process or produce a better result.
Failing to delegate the entire process It can be hard for managers to give up control over a process. In this situation, while you may give up small chunks of a task, you might find it difficult to relinquish control over the whole process. But you cant do everything. At some point, your own performance begins to be compromised, because retaining responsibility for everything is too much for a single person. You might even contribute to delays and bottlenecks in the process, because your time is stretched thin.
Failing to follow up On the other extreme, a busy manager sometimes doesnt have enough time to fully explain the task thats being delegated. Failing to provide enough instruction and guidance can be just as damaging as micromanaging the entire process. You probably have a lot of context and background information on the process which helps you decide how best to complete the work. Your subordinate probably wont have the benefit of this information, especially if youre delegating a task or responsibility for the first time. Its important to strike a good balance between providing enough background and explanation to allow your subordinate to make informed decisions, without dictating the decisions he should make.
To effectively delegate, managers should follow some general guiding principles:
Provide sufficient information, resources and training Make sure you give subordinates everything theyll need to get the job done.
Encourage fresh ideas and experimentation Let staff know you support re-engineering. Encourage ways to increase efficiency, rather than sticking to a process just because thats the way weve always done it.
Give enough authority To enable a subordinate to complete the task successfully, others must know he or she has full authority to take action and steer the process.
Choose the right person Half the battle of effective delegation is picking the right person for the job.
Hold employees accountable for results Dont delegate and walk away. Let staff know you will be monitoring progress and determining if they achieved a successful outcome.
Emphasize the opportunities that come with delegation make sure staff realize delegation can be a great growth opportunity. If workers perceive you as dumping undesirable tasks on them, theyll be resentful and less likely to complete the job well.