Become a Master Delegator or Fail

Delegation is a critical skill to become, and remain successful. The best leaders and managers delegate extensively and strategically to maximize personal effectiveness. Through my coaching and training I have discovered that significant improvement in performance, impact and influence does not happen until someone masters the ability to delegate. Effective delegation in and of itself will dramatically increase your productivity by being able to channel your energy, strengths and talents on high pay-off tasks and personally fulfilling activities. The more effective and successful you are, the more you can help others to improve their effectiveness. Put in even more simple terms – you can’t give what you don’t have.

Consider the following perspectives on delegation from the perspective of “Delegator” – the person delegating the task, and from the “Delegatee” – the person charged with performing the task to identify areas to act on immediately to improve your effectiveness and develop your team.

1. Issues relating to your effectiveness in delegating:

  • Does the delegatee have the ability “to see the angles” and do it right?
  • Am I willing to release control to let others grow?
  • Am I relegating authority, delegating a task or simply passing the buck?
  • Where does the ultimate responsibility remain? Is it me or can it be delegated too?
  • What are client or stakeholder expectations relating to the outcome?
  • What do I need to do to create an environment or culture conducive to delegation?

2. Obstacles to delegation:

The Delgatee:

  • inexperience
  • background
  • tenacity
  • inadequate thinking skills
  • time taken (insufficient speed)
  • inaccessibility at the moment of need
  • inadequate deductive reasoning capability

The Delegator:

  • I like doing it myself
  • the finished product won’t be up to my standards
  • my perfectionism gets in the way of letting go
  • inability to identify tasks that can be delegated
  • evaluate the cost of delegating versus doing it yourself
  • belief that training takes/wastes time
  • insufficient patience, or inability to explain clearly
  • my client expects me to do these tasks – really?

3. Consequences of not delegating:

  • lost time for personal activities – relationships, travel, reflecting, relaxing…
  • no time for personal growth and development
  • burnout and poor health
  • less income or missing promotions
  • missed vacations
  • frustration with yourself because you’re a “control freak”

4. Recommendations for improvement:

  • reward yourself for successful delegation to reinforce good behaviours and actions
  • give good feedback to those you have assigned the task
  • tell clients you directly supervise your team on delegated tasks to ensure quality
  • identify assignable tasks and activities
  • list those clients whose work suits delegation
  • learn to say “no” to what you should not do
  • ask “how would you do it?” versus telling someone how they should do it
  • delegate assignments with boundaries where you can estimate the costs including time, money and people that you can control and oversee to achieve better results

5. The uncomfortable truths:

If you don’t delegate you:

  • can’t grow your business or develop yourself
  • work all the time and become dull and boring
  • can’t go on vacation or feel guilty when you do
  • are passed over for promotions
  • feel powerless or taken advantage of
  • may be overly controlling
  • stand in the way of your best talent growing and learning
  • may have incompetent or unskilled people working for you (easiest to fix – hire better, train more and fire the incompetent)

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