Resistance to delegation in the workplace is a common thread among most managers. After all, if you want something done right, best to do it yourself, right? Not quite. This fixed mentality will only take you and your business so far. As capable as you may be as a manager or leader of a business, missed opportunities to delegate will inevitably hurt your business in the short and long terms. Considering the amount of skilled talent in the workforce across all industries, delegation is an absolute must; most managers are overseeing exceptional talent! If you’re looking to build a sustainable and thriving business, complete with robust and dedicated employees, it’s time to start delegating.
Although simple in theory, delegating tasks and responsibilities is a little more complex than one might assume. Too often, managers pass off a task to an employee for the sole purpose of getting it off of their plate because they are “too busy” or their attention is needed elsewhere. While this approach might work to get the job done, it rarely yields a gainful outcome. When it comes to workplace delegation, there’s a very fine line between the lazy handoff of a task that seems too tedious or laborious for you, as a manager, to complete compared to the thoughtful delegation that is intended for professional growth. And in every instance, no matter how nicely it’s packaged, employees absolutely know the difference between the two scenarios.
When delegation is done effectively, and with intent, it is the thoughtful transfer of responsibility in an effort for both you and your employee to evolve professionally. In the workplace, delegation should be the core of management leadership; delegation is meant to increase the recipient’s aptitude and responsibility as opposed to just adding to their daily obligations. It is meant to expand that responsibility with confidence and trust without excessive micromanagement or hovering. Delegation is having confidence in your employees and the work they are capable of producing.
Even as the remote workforce continues to expand, your employees’ growth and development need to be nurtured internally. Pre COVID-19, as much of a teaching moment you thought you might be offering when you would send an employee to an offsite “lunch and learn” to develop an area of interest or skillset further, if their competency and talents are not recognized and supported in the scope of work they are assigned on a day-to-day basis, no amount of offsite professional development will satisfy. By allowing a transfer of power through delegation, however major or minor it may be, you are speaking to your employees’ inner confidence. Through the action of delegation, you’re saying, “I see your skillset and what you are capable of. Give this a shot.”
It’s kind of like driving a car. Imagine needing behind-the-wheel experience for your driving test, and the only practice your parents would allow would be at the go-cart track or via a video game. Sure, you’ll likely be able to become familiar with basic driving procedures, but your real-life on the road experience may not be ideal, especially in high-intensity moments. It’s very difficult to simulate actual experience with something that is close, but not close enough to the real thing. Similarly, the same is true for the workplace. In order for an employee to grow and mature in their career, which will ultimately help streamline your business and the workforce as a whole, you will often need to hand over the keys and delegate certain tasks. It is essential that employees are provided opportunity through delegation to take on tasks within their capability, but a little outside of their comfort zone, in order for authentic professional development to occur. Even more, it is pivotal for you as a manager to recognize and capitalize on these opportunities every time they present.
Delegation is always a return on investment when it comes to time. Extra hours in the day are difficult to come across. More often than not, most of us wrap up the workday, wondering, “Where did the time go?” Even more, that thought is usually followed by “what needs to get done tomorrow, the day after, next week, next month…”
For dedicated managers and employees, ‘work brain’ rarely quiets down. Yet, far too often, most managers are spending the precious time in their days giving attention to tasks or issues that can (and should!) be handled by someone else on the team. Arguably, knowing when to free up your time and delegate to another can be the most difficult decision of all. However, in most instances, it can be determined with two very simple questions:
1. Would my time be better spent elsewhere right now?
2. Is there someone on my team that is capable of handling this?
If the answer to both questions is “yes,” delegate. Optimizing your time to focus on more critical tasks will be dually beneficial for your company and your employees’ productivity and development.
The transfer of trust by way of delegation is often the most overlooked component because it is not explicit or tangible. Yet, your trust in your employees builds their trust in you as a manager.
Ultimately, if they trust that you are making sound decisions to build and cultivate opportunities for professional progress, they will almost always exceed expectations on deliverables.