Delegation is a key skill for all leaders, and necessary for any person wanting to get ahead. If you ever feel stressed and overwhelmed or feel as though your career or business has become stagnate, then it's time to sharpen those delegation skills.
No matter how efficient and masterful you are at your job, you have the same amount of hours in the day as your colleagues. There are only so many tasks you can achieve within the same time frame, so to free yourself up and lighten the load; you're going to need a little help from your friends.
It goes without saying that the people who are best at their work are often given more work, and this can often lead to a sense of pressure and a feeling of being out of control. If this is you, please know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, provided you're willing to seek it.
Why People Avoid Delegation
There are loads of reasons why people don't delegate: you might think you don't have the time to train someone else; you fear losing control; you're concerned someone else will get the credit; you'll lose the jobs you actually enjoy; you can do it better and you don't trust others enough that they'll do a satisfactory job.
These reasons are all valid, but unless you find a way through them, then nothing will change. The first step is acceptance. Accepting that yes, others probably won't do it as well as you, and they'll most likely do it differently. Big deal. The aim here is not perfection - the aim is to save you time.
And if you're worried about losing control or giving someone else the credit, then you're managing from ego and that's never the best way to lead. Seek joy in watching others achieve a task that was once yours -- you're giving a gift of empowerment and that's a beautiful thing.
Be aware that when you first start to delegate, the task will take longer for that person. This is simply because you're an expert, and your colleague still has his or her training wheels on. Be patient: they'll get there and soon become more competent and efficient.
How To Delegate Well
It all starts with the briefing. Take the time to explain to your colleague why they were chosen for the task and be clear in your expectations of them. Unless they're your identical twin, or you've worked in their pocket for the last decade, they won't necessarily be able to read your mind, so you need to be clear from the outset. Tell them when you expect the job completed by and offer your availability throughout the process.
We all know that as managers, we shouldn't micromanage. However, this doesn't mean we must abdicate control altogether. In delegating effectively, we have to dance in the sometimes difficult space between giving enough room for people to use their abilities for the best possible outcome, while still staying close enough to ensure that the job is done correctly.
Once a delegated project or task is delivered back to you, be sure to spend the time to give honest feedback. Saying everything is perfect when it's not only impedes your colleague's ability to learn and grow, and it also means that you'll often find yourself in a worse position, having to correct whatever they produced. Be open and direct with your feedback, whilst being sensitive to the fact that this job could be new to them, and they've most likely done their best.
Of course, if the work comes back and it's everything you'd hoped for, be generous with your praise and gratitude. Every strong leader needs to learn the importance of this: your kind words and genuine thanks will help develop your colleague's self-confidence and efficiency and this will only improve with each delegated task you assign in the future.
As you begin to master this skill, delegation can feel like much more hassle than it's worth. However, as with any skill, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Flexing the delegation muscle means you can focus on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and also means that others can share in meaningful and fulfilling work too.
Emma Isaacs is CEO of Business Chicks and did not take her own advice in this instance and delegate the writing of this article to anyone else.