Tag Archives: delegation

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Delegation’s What You Need!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Delegation’s What You Need!

I was speaking to a group yesterday – and what one of the group came up with was this question.  ‘If I am a precisionist, why do I find delegation so hard to do?’

Well, it’s obvious really.

But before we get to that – let’s look at the 5 main reasons quiet leaders don’t delegate.

  1. Fear that something will go wrong
  2. Believing it is quicker to do it themselves
  3. They don’t leave enough time to explain or train others before the deadline
  4. The fear others judging them as inadequate or dispensable
  5. They don’t build capability and capacity into their teams

And here are the 3 biggest reasons that you SHOULD delegate

  1. You are leaving your organisation open to the “bus risk”.  What I mean by that is – what happens if you get hit by a bus?  Not necessarily literally.  But what if you get sick, or someone you care for gets sick, or you break a leg, or just need a holiday.  Does everything pause while you are away, or are the team having to check in with you on the phone even though you are off?  Your team/organisation will be the loser if no-one can operate without you.
  2. You are risking staff turnover if you don’t give people opportunities to grow.  People need to learn new skills and take on more responsibility to feel challenged and needed in their role.  If you don’t give them that, they will eventually either walk away – or you wish they would.  By that I mean, someone who is not moving forward in their career is probably moving backwards and may end up being an underperforming problem for you to solve.
  3. You are holding yourself and your organisation back by distracting yourself or keeping yourself overly busy with stuff that someone else could do.  If you are not focused on the strategic – at least some of the time – then the chances are your organisation is surviving and not thriving.

Anyway, back to the story.  And you may be asking yourself – ‘what’s a precisionist?’

Well, as a ‘precisionist’ you want everything to be right, you are risk-averse and you are also probably a perfectionist.  And if you are a ‘precisionist’ then your natural inclination is NOT to give stuff away. 

The question came up – ‘how do I change that about myself’ and here’s the thing, you can’t really change how you are.

You can change your behaviour, of course, you can learn to accept some imperfection, for example, thought it will still get under your skin in all likelihood. But here is what you CAN do, in fact, what you MUST do.   

More important than your ability to change, is your ability to communicate with the person you want to start delegating to. 

If you don’t feel good about delegating, you will be unhappy and the person you have delegated it to probably will also not be happy.  They will pick up on your unhappiness, and if you haven’t communicated with them how you feel, then they may well assume that you don’t trust them, or you don’t think they are good enough. 

So – not only are you not comfortable with delegating, but the person ‘mind reads’ and fills in their own gaps.  And I guarantee they won’t think – ‘actually the problem is my boss is not comfortable with delegating.  They will think they are the problem.’ So, now you also have a staff morale and confidence problem.  Which probably mean they won’t be able to complete the task you have delegated.  And – CONGRATULATIONS – you have just become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

However, it doesn’t need to be like that.

If you can communicate that you find delegating difficult, they will understand. Shock horror!  They won’t think you’re a loser and in fact, they will probably be relieved that the problem ISN’T them.  They will feel more comfortable, the relationship is improved, and the person involved will try and make things easier for you. 

You will then be able to express that you are stressed because you would usually do this task.  The other person will understand it is not about them and be able to reassure you that it is OK to feel like that, and they may even do stuff which means you feel more comfortable delegating.  They might check in with you about what they are doing along the way, for example.

This then gives you more confidence to delegate more.  And voila!  You have a virtuous circle and the luxury of being able to work ON your business and not in it.

If you’d like more leadership tips and strategies aimed at the Quiet leader – please go and join our Facebook Group Quiet Leaders With Impact

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How Come Delegation Never Works?

Here’s a question a frustrated manager recently asked me,  “How come delegation never works?”.  It’s a question (or a variation of it) that I have heard many times over the years.  You might have even thought something similar yourself. 

Perhaps you have managed a team who never seemed to complete anything you asked them to do, or if they did it took too long, or it wasn’t to the standard you would expect.  And maybe you wonder to yourself where the person you interviewed all those weeks/months/years ago went? 

You know, the person who was all bright and sparkly at their interview.  The person you could see in the role.  The one who you believed would show the rest of the team a thing or two and shake things up a bit? 

And now you are struggling to see what you saw in them in the first place, as they seem incapable of being pro-active, of making a decision, of coming up with an idea, or even of just doing what you asked them to do!

Sound familiar?

Well, it’s only to be expected because delegation never works. 

No – I’m serious.  It never works.  And there are only 2 reasons.

First reason – you hired the wrong people.  They are completely incapable, couldn’t start a fire in a fireworks factory and really should give you their wages back at the end of the month. (Spoiler – I’m kidding). 

Second reason.  You’re doing it wrong (spoiler AGAIN – it is always this one).

It’s not really your fault.  I mean the whole word ‘delegation’ sets it off to a doomed end from the start. 

No-one likes being ‘delegated to’. 

But people DO like to be trained, encouraged, given responsibility, trusted, empowered, encouraged, given some freedom to make decisions.  Can you see the difference?

Where delegation often goes wrong is in 3 places.

Abdication.  Manipulation.  And Annihilation.

Abdication is delegation on steroids, where steroids are the wrong prescription!

As a leader, you are responsible for everything that comes out of your department or company.  What some leaders do, is throw the problem at one of their subordinates, without finding out what help or support that person may need, without checking their understanding of the issue, and without any checks and balances (support) in place. 

They literally throw you the ball and expect you to run with it, without checking that you have 2 legs, or know where you are running to, and without pit stops along the way. 

Well, this is bound to go wrong, isn’t it?  As much as the employee may want to please, if they don’t know what they are doing, or aren’t sure of the parameters, or the expected final result – then it is all on a hiding to nowhere. 

Managers who do this are either forced into doing it as they literally cannot fit the work into their own day, or they think they are doing someone a favour by giving them the ‘chance to shine’ which more often then not turns into ‘the chance to fail’.

Manipulation, is delegation on Hallucinogenics.

This type of delegation is performed by a manager using emotional blackmail, or false promises.  The opportunity is not what it seems.  There are smoke and lots of mirrors! 

This type of delegation is always done for the benefit of the delegator.  This manager wants to get rid of the ‘sh*t’ jobs on his or her To-Do list and believes that by alluding to possible beneficial outcomes, or by telling a sob story, they will be able to shift this grunt work onto a willing victim.

The problem here is – this doesn’t work long term. 

It soon becomes clear that this is not what it seems, and the delegated person starts to resent the manager.  They become demotivated and therefore (consciously or subconsciously) start to deliver poor quality work or miss deadlines. 

Annihilation – is delegation with poison.

This type of ‘delegation’ is guaranteed to prevent any future delegation even getting off the ground.  This is where a task or project is assigned to someone / a team.  Maybe there is a brief, maybe even timescales and training.  And then, when the project is delivered, the manager rips it up – physically or metaphorically.

The manager re-does the work themselves because they are not happy with what has been delivered.  Or they don’t even wait for the project to be delivered, they take it back ‘mid project’ because they aren’t happy. 

The problems start with the word ‘Delegation’.

If you ‘empowered’ your team to do something, then you would get a better result, because you have given them what they need and they feel your confidence in them, and their own confidence in themselves. 

If you trusted them (really trusted them) it would be because you knew they could do it – not because you were HOPING you could trust them.   

If you trained your team with all the job and life skills they need to be able to complete a project, then they would complete it. 

So, the next time you need to ‘delegate’ something to someone, consider whether you have empowered, trained and trusted them to do it, or whether you are just setting them up to fail.