Tag Archives: delegation

Disengaged man with a hand over his face

How to Ditch Disastrous Delegation

I love cake. I mean, I reaaaally love it!

But say I am given a cake that serves twelve and I try to eat it all myself, I’m going to feel pretty sick. That’s not to say I don’t love cake anymore, but too much will leave anyone wiped out, lethargic, or just ill!

You know that, just by sharing a few slices, you could have avoided feeling totally rubbish but you really wanted it all.

And now you’re feeling awful, and your mates think you are totally selfish.

By giving away even just a bit, this whole situation could have been avoided.

So why are we talking about this?

I know it sounds obvious, but so many leaders want to just dive in and take on their version of the whole cake.

But business is no different. You need to share the workload. You need to DELEGATE!

Here’s the thing – something weird stops us

We must ask ourselves this first question – Why are we taking on too much in the first place?

This could come down to a number of factors, so let’s take a look at what they may be.

Need for Control

As a leader it is easy to feel like, as everything your team does ultimately falls back on you, it is best done yourself, isn’t it?

But, before you know it you can slip into one of two things – the micromanaging spiral, or the “I’ll do it myself” drama triangle.

It is natural to want to know what your team is doing at any one time, but you have to allow them to operate in their own space within your wider leadership.

I don’t know about you, but when someone is on my shoulder all the time, watching what I am doing, I end up telling them to do it themselves because I don’t feel trusted. 

And if you are already doing it yourself anyway, their confidence is going to be shot to pieces so then they probably would just end up fulfilling your fear of not doing it as good as you.

But you may have just created that yourself.

The reality of that need is often fear. The fear of failure and lack of trust that your team can support your aims. 

This is where you have to look at why you brought this team together in the first place.

You assembled this group to do a job for you and you must trust them when it comes down to distributing and delegating your workload. It will also help keep them engaged, interested and motivated.

Guilt

I hear it all the time, “Giving people work makes me feel guilty”.  “They will think I am lazy.” 

But this should be exactly the opposite.  That is your job.

Many of us have been brought up with a really great (too great) work ethic and have been taught that things should be hard work, or we should work hard.

So, when we start to delegate it feels like we are putting on others and shirking our responsibilities.

But we need to remember our role – To enable a team.

And forget that ingrained behaviour and belief system for the new one that recognises that real success is where we all play a role, not beat ourselves up for not being the hardest working person in the room.

Frustration & Disappointment

Oh, we’ve all been there when we get up the confidence to delegate and then Bam! 

Terrible result. ☹

We then go through the emotions of frustration, disappointment and beating ourselves up because of the good old “told you so, that was a bad idea. Should have done it yourself”.

But hang on a minute, we need to look at that in a different way.

Did we set them up to succeed or fail?

Did we make sure they had the skill, the will, and the way to achieve what we asked them to?

If not, then that’s our fault and, not only that, but we can also do a great deal about it.

And we must.

This is the art of delegation and of leadership.

To take our team from can’t do, won’t do, or don’t do, to can do, want to, and will do.

We need to help people see why they should do a task, why they should do it for you and how they should do it.  Then they can just get on with it with certainty and belief in their own abilities.

Because of course, no one will have the exact same vision or way of working within a group, unless we explain why it should be this way.

So, we need to be able to communicate and inspire those around us to see our vision and the output that we are looking for.   

Individuals may need a few attempts to get a task right but if you, as their leader, jump in too soon or too often and take over, you are robbing them of the opportunity to develop and save you work in the future.

And remember, they may even have a better way of doing something than you, if you would just trust and let them!

Over belief in our own abilities

Just because you have been doing this for 20 years, doesn’t mean that no one else could be as good as you. 

If you gave them the chance they would develop. 

But if they are better than you, then where does that leave you?

Maybe for some of us, ego gets in the way of developing others to a point that we can step back. 

We don’t want it as much as we need it!

So, we must see the bigger picture.   Remind ourselves, it is not about us, but about the greater good.  And we need to leave our ego at home, or we will be a very busy person indeed.

So next time you are worried about delegating, just think “how can I make this work” with three questions.

Is it can’t do, or won’t do or I don’t want to do it for you?

Then once you know, you are halfway there, and you can work on each one of these differently.

Then you will be able to have your cake and eat it!

If you would like to find out about that then that is exactly what we teach on our leaders’ development programs. 

Drop me a line to find out how you can get some help with implementing better delegation strategies and mindset for a happier, more confident team and a more chilled you.

Huskies

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

Confused emoji face

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.