You are working nights and weekends. You are regularly behind by at least 100 e-mails in your inbox. Your desk is a mess. Your day is spent running from one meeting to the next and getting nothing accomplished. You feel like there is never enough time to get all your tasks completed.
You may have a small or even large team that you manage. They seem to have a reasonable work/life balance and don’t appear to be as frazzled as you are. They may even ask you if you need help on a project or task. What is wrong with this picture?
Delegation is a critical skill for a leader. Unfortunately, so many managers are hesitant to delegate. There are many reasons for this. You may think your skills are indispensable. There may be some fear that if your direct reports learn your skills, they may take your job one day. You may not think anyone can do your job as well as you can.
Learning to delegate takes tremendous confidence. Your role as a manager is to mentor and coach your employees to grow and develop them so they are able to take on greater responsibilities. The first step is to think about how you spend most days. Keep a task journal for a week if you need to and you will start to see patterns. If there are less critical tasks that are taking much of your time and effort, start with delegating those.
Choose whom to delegate to carefully. You will want to choose employees who are capable and who have expressed interest in learning new skills. After time, it’s a good idea to start putting some of your newly delegated projects or tasks on the employees’ performance goal plan. This will hold both of you accountable, and will keep you from continuing to try to do it all yourself. Let your employees know that it’s okay to ask for projects or volunteer for new responsibilities.
Once you have delegated, let go. Don’t micromanage. It’s important for employees to develop critical thinking skills, learn from their mistakes, and work to correct those mistakes. Your employees may not do things exactly as you would have, but that’s okay. Allow free thinking and creativity.
The more you delegate, the more comfortable you will become with it. Over time, you will realize that this critical skill will only make you a better leader and will free the way for you to spend more time on the most important issues. And, you may even get to go home at a reasonable time as a special bonus!