You probably know the old adage, “If you want something done right, you should do it yourself.” Well, we’re here to tell you that this is terrible advice, especially for managers. The best leaders know that they probably need to delegate more, and they understand which of their tasks to delegate in order to keep deadlines on track.
So let’s dive into the what, how, and why to delegate to your team.
What keeps us from being able to delegate more?
Basically, a lot of unhelpful mindsets:
“I don’t have time to explain it.”
We all know the feeling of a deadline bearing down, and it doesn’t feel like there’s enough time in the day to get it done. The fix: explain and delegate tasks before there’s a fire to put out.
“It’s quicker and easier if I just do it myself.”
This mindset is super short-sighted. It’s crucial that leaders always have long-term goals in mind. Yes, sometimes it is faster to do it yourself, but when you’re doing that task for the tenth time, this is no longer the case.
“My staff already has too much on their plate.”
Are you a mind reader? Probably not. So, don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Instead of making assumptions, check-in with your employees about whether they have the time for another task on their to-do list.
“Doing it myself will mean less chance of having to fix it later.”
It can be hard to let go of control and trust others, especially if we are aiming for perfection. But giving your team the chance to do it their way will allow them to feel more ownership in the work. Plus, they’ll grow more, especially if they’re free to make mistakes and learn from them.
“It’d be nice to get the credit myself.”
This one might be the hardest to admit. But sometimes we stay in control of things because we want the credit for the work. It’s time to challenge that part of us and put the ego aside. Plus, delegating tasks means you can focus on projects that have the potential to make an even bigger impact.
Lack of delegation = more problems
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is almost a guaranteed way to create additional problems at work. You might forget important details, snap at a colleague, or eventually burn out.
Meanwhile, bored and underutilized employees are a surefire way to kill office morale. We know that employees want to feel a sense of ownership in the workplace, which leads to more engaged staff. By delegating certain tasks, you’re potentially increasing retention and productivity at work.
Are you ready for this next one? A lack of delegation could hinder your own career.
Higher-ups may notice you don’t delegate enough tasks, and think you’re not ready for additional responsibility. Especially if your inability to delegate means missed deadlines. They also may hesitate to involve you in strategic conversations and decisions.
Mindsets that’ll help you delegate more
- Yes, delegation requires time, but it could save you hundreds of hours in the long run.
- It also helps your team grow and improve. And as staff becomes more engaged, you’re likely to see better outcomes and quality of work.
- Trust that your team will speak up if they have too much work on their plates.
- Sometimes done is better than perfect. Perfectionism can be a blessing and a curse, consider taking some time to evaluate if you’re letting it get in the way.
- Delegating can help you focus on high-priority tasks.
- Your employee may have skills that would make them a better fit than you for certain tasks.
“Especially whenever our affairs seem to be in crisis, we are almost compelled to give our first attention to the urgent present rather than to the important future.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Get delegatin’! Here are some tools and tips to try
Have you heard of the “Eisenhower Matrix?” Basically, it’s the distinction between which tasks are “urgent” and which are “important.” It helps you consider the long-term impacts of your daily tasks, and prioritizes being effective – not just productive.
Here’s what the matrix looks like:
The four quadrants of the matrix are as follows:
- Urgent & Important: Tasks that need to be completed immediately. These probably require your attention and aren’t as easily delegated.
- Less Urgent & Important: Tasks that don’t have a deadline, but are important to your goals. These should be done rather than pushed to the bottom of your list. So schedule time for this work. If you can delegate other things, you’ll have more time for these crucial activities.
- Urgent & Less Important: These are tasks that are less complicated and lower-stakes. Therefore, they can likely be delegated to someone else. These activities don’t require your specific skillset.
- Less Urgent & Less Important: If possible, delete these tasks completely. No one should be working on things that are unnecessary or ultimately unimportant.
Sounds easy in theory but not in practice, right? Think about it this way — urgent tasks need attention right away and are unavoidable, but some of them should be delegated. Important tasks should be done regardless of urgency – they contribute to the organization’s long-term goals. Less important tasks can either be delegated or deleted.
LISTEN: Leading an Effective Team
Another way to think about delegating tasks is by considering what could be referred to as “safe to fail” items. Basically, consider the level of risk involved with a task. If it’s a less-risky task, then making a mistake on it won’t be a big deal for the company. So, let someone else take the reins.
As a leader, you’re probably pretty familiar with your strengths and weaknesses. Delegate tasks that you know someone else can handle more effectively. For example, you know that organization isn’t your strong suit, but someone on your team is an organization-guru. Consider delegating these tasks to them.
Finally, we recommend asking yourself this question often, “Is this something that only I can do?” And you probably already know where we’re headed with this. If the answer is no, delegate!