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  • Writer's pictureChristine Callihan

The Art of Delegation: The Essential Managerial Skill

Do you have days when you feel like you need to do everything, and your to-do list is a mile long? Have you ever thought, “If only I could clone myself?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to do everything yourself and as of right now, it is also impossible to clone yourself.

If only I could clone myself!

But as a manager, there is a solution: Delegate important tasks to your employees, freeing up time for you to work on those more pressing matters. To some, the idea of delegating may make them feel like a bad boss, but in actuality, the whole reason for having employees is so that they can do work for you, and accomplish goals as a team.

And it gets even better: When you get delegation right, now your employees feel like a part of the team: they are no longer there just to help carry the load. They will find surprising ways to knock your expectations out of the park!

Every boss has a ton of work to do, as well as expectations as to how each task or project should be completed. When it comes right down to it, it’s difficult for many bosses to effectively delegate, because they fear their employees don’t work as hard and that they won’t complete the project correctly.

Eventually they find themselves doing everything, controlling all aspects of work, and the employees become disengaged. This turns into an unhealthy pattern and feeds into a self-reinforcing negative downward spiral where bosses can’t get out of the hole.

  • Are you working extra hours, while your employees are going home on time?

  • Do you have a work backlog with many items being dependent on you to start? And only you?

  • Are you doing things that you are not an expert at?

  • Are you doing work that is a level below your job title?

  • Are you starting to feel burned out?

If you’re thinking yes in regards to these questions, then you need to get yourself out of that hole. You need to find a way to delegate more in order to manage your own workload and keep your employees engaged.

Why is delegation so difficult?

1. Bosses buy into “The Myth” The fact is: bosses that delegate get better results. Yet some bosses choose not to delegate because they are holding onto the belief that “if you want something done right, then do it yourself.” This is a poor management myth. You can’t do everything yourself. And if you try you’ll end up falling short, neglecting your priorities and eventually burning yourself out.

2. Managers don’t take the time to be good with people Delegation is also hard, because managing people is difficult. People are stubborn, even the best employees. People don’t like being told what to do, and you may fear what will happen. Being a manager includes having tough conversations sometimes. Sometimes it may seem easier to do something yourself than it is to figure out the best way to assign your team members appropriate tasks.

3. Managers don’t trust their employees

What happens when you effectively delegate?

  • Your team will start accomplishing goals more quickly.

  • Your employees will want to learn and grow.

  • You can use delegation as a motivational tool for growth, especially when tasks you don’t want to do can be an attractive development opportunity for an employee.

  • As talented as you are, you’re not the best at everything. The beauty of diversity means that there’s someone out there who is better than you at some tasks.

  • Your employees can dedicate the attention and time that you don’t have.

  • Employee retention rate will actually improve.

  • You will be establishing a culture of trust within your staff. Delegating says that you trust their capabilities and talents. This is good for the team morale as well as self esteem.

Not only do effective delegators enjoy benefits as a manager, but as you learn to delegate, you’ll notice these changes in your employees as well:

  • They'll become more motivated

  • They become better at their jobs

  • They are more committed to your firm

  • They are more fulfilled and so therefore more pleasant to be around

Here are some of the ways your employees will find healthy delegation motivational in the workplace:

  1. Right now your employees have skills that are being wasted because they’re not getting used. Your employees want to do what they’re good at. Delegation can help your employees find this fulfillment so they don’t have to leave to find it elsewhere.

  2. Your employees want to progress. Delegating responsibilities to staff is like a small promotion but without the increase.

  3. Your employees want to grow and learn new things.

  4. Your employees want to be entrusted with responsibilities, to make a contribution, and to be valued.

As you can see, delegating is a cheap and efficient way to improve the daily workings of your company as well as to motivate your staff.

So how do you move from an overflowing inbox to a world where delegation is used properly and as a motivational tool for growth?

  1. Evaluate what you can and can’t do

  2. Defer when you need to

  3. Let your employees surprise you – you are talented, smart, and good at your job. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be the boss or won’t be the boss for long. However, your employees are also talented, smart, and good at their jobs. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have hired them. Remember that each of your employees was hired on to help contribute to a larger goal. If you don’t give them the opportunity to work on projects, then the only things you are doing is robbing the company of their talents and allowing them to watch cat videos all day. Check in with your employees – in order to delegate, you need to trust your employees. But that doesn’t mean that you need to let them go hog wild. Being good at delegating means also following up with them and providing feedback and direction. And guess what? Sometimes your employees will miss the mark, but that does not mean you should take the project back and do it yourself. You’re a manager. Manage them. Not manage yourself. But manage them. Set expectations and goals. Have milestone meetings. Correct and instruct as you go.

  4. Be clear about the desired outcome. Communicating effectively is a HUGE part of delegating effectively. I could spend all day talking about better communication. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

  5. Match the responsibility with the skill set

  6. Include your team in the process

  7. Set deadlines

You may not be able to actually clone yourself, but the next best thing is to delegate. Effective managers are pros at delegation. They delegate a lot and they delegate well. It’s important to take that leap of faith to improve your business’ practices. Remember that you hired your staff for a reason, and your time is better served away from administrative tasks.

The longer a team stays whole and productive, the more their stability and productivity will grow. This is great for everyone!

Effective bosses don’t just delegate to manage their own workload. Truly great bosses know how to use delegation in management as a motivational tool. Delegation is an important skill for effective leaders, and a happy, effective team is great for business. So keep this in mind the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, and consider assigning projects to your staff.

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