New Year is a time when most people will set new goals for the upcoming year. The timing also coincides with the annual goal setting period when organizational goals are cascaded to operational staff. In this economy, where company goals are overly ambitious and expenses are being trimmed to protect the bottom line, it’s a critical time for managers at all levels to decide how their goals will be executed and by whom.
It’s a time when I encourage managers to reflect upon their delegation skills and its impact on their team’s performance. Managers who can delegate easily and regularly generally outperform their peers who take on too much and limit what they expect from their teams. There are many factors which affects a manager’s ability to delegate well; their knowledge and familiarity with the tasks involved, the skills and capability of their employees, the level of authority and risks, and the degree of accountability and trust given to their staff. What impacts your ability to delegate?
As you review your annual team and professional goals for the year, take a moment to consider these practical tips to get the most out of your team and stand out in 2016:
Delegate as much as you can with the authority to do it. A common pitfall is to expect the employee to get their manager’s approval at every step which defeats the intent of delegation. Assess the decisions required, get specific about the scope of authority you are allowing and be explicit.
Delegate more whole tasks than pieces or parts. This is especially true for your high performing employees. When they see how their efforts contribute to a bigger task or goal, they are likely to feel a greater sense of ownership and commitment towards completion.
Delegate those things that others can do. This tip is indicative of how well you know your team’s capabilities and current workload. A common assumption managers make is that their staff have too much on their plate. Instead of guessing, just ask them directly. Even if this is the case, perhaps there are other tasks that can be reassigned.
Delegate tactical, keep strategic. Managers who micromanage tend to lack strategic ability. Assess what types of tactical tasks you hold onto, examine your rationale and its impact on being proactive and forward-thinking. How does this compare with how your peers delegate in their teams? If you don’t know, ask around and see what works for others.
Delegate short term, keep long-term. By delegating short-term tasks to your team, you can evaluate the outcomes quicker, give feedback promptly, make changes if necessary and see results faster. It also frees up your time for long-range planning and strategic tasks.
Ask your team what they could help with. Many managers think their teams expect them to know and do everything. They believe it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. Managers who are emotionally self-aware are not afraid to say to their team, “I need to free up 20% of my time, what do I currently do that you can help me with?” If you do this, you will be amazed with what your team might offer to help with.
Pick 1-2 tasks to delegate regularly and let it go. If delegation is not your strength, start small and pick low risk, short-term tasks that have minimal accountability. Fear of losing control prevents many managers from ever realizing the true benefits of delegation. You will notice your confidence build as you start to see results. Ready to take it up a notch? Consider increasing your level of trust and accountability with staff who are willing and capable. What do you need to let go of to build trust?
As you embark on your 2016 goals, make delegation as key part of your strategy. Becoming a better delegator, requires taking an honest look at how you assign work, taking some risks, albeit uncomfortable and time-consuming at first, and communicating clear expectations and with the right level of authority. It’s also about spending your time differently to increase your effectiveness and drive your team’s performance.