In high school, I was the Junior Class President. And as President, it was my job to be the leader for my class. The junior class was responsible for raising money for the Jr/Sr Prom held annually at the end of the school year. We raised lots of money that year and wanted to go all out for our prom. When it came time to decorate this enormous room, many people showed up, but I ended up doing most of the work. As the president, I should have been delegating work, but my lack of delegation skills, and most leadership skills for that matter, dictated that I do the work. By the time we were done, I was mad at my classmates for not pitching in and helping. After all, couldn’t they read my mind? I was really mad at myself because I had not asked for their help or delegated work to them.
Delegating to your subordinates or your team is a critical skill for leaders (unless you want to go mad). People will help and want to help, but you have to be able to give them guidance. You have to be able to delegate without micro-managing. Yes, you are ultimately responsible for the outcome, but you can’t do everything. New frontline leaders have a difficult time delegating. They have a hard time letting go and trusting others to perform.
If you use a simple process to delegate work to others, you will not only have time to coach others, you may actually have time to breathe. Following is a simple but effective way to delegate that will help you ADAPT your leadership style.
Assess who has the skills to do the task/job.
Describe the work to be performed and the outcome expected.
Ask for clarification and check for their understanding of the task/job.
Provide resources and support.
Talk about and set milestones and deadlines for completing the task/job.
Once you have delegated, follow up periodically, as established ahead of time, and give recognition along the way as milestones are achieved. More on recognition later. You have to trust yourself to delegate and trust your employees to perform. They may not perform the task/job the way you would, but you should focus on the outcome. Remember to ask for clarification from the person to whom you are delegating. Don’t assume they understand. Ask them!
Delegating is an opportunity for you to further develop the talent on your team. It allows you to hone your teaching and coaching skills. Delegating is a Win-Win process for everyone.