The ability to appropriately assign responsibility and authority to another person to carry out specific activities.
Do you hoard tasks, keeping the good ones to yourself? Do you throw tasks at people without any overall plan or follow-up? Do you micromanage because you don't trust people will perform? Unless you can do the work of the team all by yourself, both performance and morale will suffer until you learn to delegate.
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.Exodus 18: 24-25
Clearly and comfortably delegates both routine and important tasks and decisions to others
Broadly shares both responsibility and accountability for tasks or activities or projects
Tends to trust people to perform
Lets others finish their own delegated tasks without interference or interruption – truly releases others to complete their work
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
– John C. Maxwell
Doesn’t believe in or trust delegation
Lacks trust and respect for the abilities of others
Does most things by oneself or hoards work; keeps the good work for oneself
Doesn’t want or know how to truly empower others by giving them both the responsibility and authority to complete work
May delegate tasks, but micromanages and looks over people’s shoulders the entire time – does not trust people to complete their work
No Big Picture
May just throw tasks at people; doesn’t communicate the bigger picture or the ‘why’ behind tasks and activities
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Causes of Weakness
Delegates but does not follow up with people about it
Delegates by throwing tasks at people – little or not thought given about who would be best to do what tasks, why and how
Delegates only little pieces of an activity, but not enough to give someone enough power or authority to get much accomplished
Hoard most things to self – keeps important or fun tasks for self
Does not trust others to complete work as well as doing it oneself
Wants and demands control, authority and oversight over all tasks, including how and when each little step is completed
“Give up control even if it means the employees have to make some mistakes.”
– Frank Flores
Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.
UNDERSTAND WHY: Time is the most precious commodity. There is never enough. One of the main causes of this is that leaders do too much themselves. Delegation frees up time. Delegation motivates. Delegation develops people. Delegation gets more done.
WHEN TO DELEGATE? Only delegate to people if and when you feel that they have the general ability or skills necessary to complete the task – or if it’s something that’s a stretch for them, yet still possible. (They do NOT have to be as good at the task as you, though!) If the person is not capable of completing the task, you are setting them up for failure, or for you to have to micro-manage them, which is not true delegation. When people don’t yet have the needed skills, you should use more of a directing approach, but not delegate.
How to Delegate?
HOW TO DELEGATE? Be clear with your expectations. Communicate set time frames and goals, and then get out of the way. People need to know what it is you expect. What does the outcome look like? When do you need it by? What’s the budget? What resources do they get? What decisions can they make? Do you want checkpoints along the way? How will we both know and measure how well the task is done?
What and Why?
WHAT AND WHY: Comunicate more about the what and why, and less about the how. The best delegators are crystal clear on what and when, and more open on how to get the work done. People are more motivated when they can determine the how for themselves. Inexperienced delegators include the hows which turns the people into robots instead of empowered and energized staff. Tell them what and when and for how long and let them figure out how they want to do it on their own.
Mix and Match
MIX AND MATCH: All of your people have differing skills and capacities. Good delegators match the size and complexity of the delegated task with the capacity of each person. It’s OK to give each person a task slightly bigger than his/her current capabilities might dictate. Engage each person in the sizing task. Ask them. Most will select wisely.
MONITORING: If you’re constantly looking over shoulders, you’re not delegating. A properly communicated and delegated task doesn’t need to be monitored. If you must monitor, set time-definite checkpoints by the calendar; such as every Monday, or by outcome or milestone, such as when you have the first draft done. Be approachable for help, but not intrusive.
PERFECTIONIST: Do you have unrealistic expectations of others? Are you afraid that other people won’t do the job as well as you? Don’t want to take the risk because if they don’t perform well, it will reflect on you? Are you really a personal contributor dressed in leader’s clothes? Really prefer doing it yourself? People just get in the way? If so, you need to examine whether leadership is the right thing for you. Good leaders depend on and challenge others to get things done and achieve goals. Be willing to challenge your high expectations, and remember that people are more important than tasks. Spend time developing and giving opportunities to your people and you will in turn develop your team.