How can managers become great delegators?

- Productivity

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by Taylor Tomita

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Sometimes the greatest skill a boss can have is the ability to pass their work onto someone else.

Delegating is a skill. It requires strategy, smart thinking and discipline. It’s an important one, since it frees up valuable time for the boss to concentrate on her own responsibilities and talents, which can result in increased revenue. In fact, managers can offload 20 percent or more of their work without seeing negative effects and when done right it can boost revenue by as much as 33 percent.

Signs that you need to delegate more include finding yourself constantly snowed under with work and mentally exhausted. Making management decisions is tiring and our judgement actually worsens with each decision we make during the day. It’s called decision fatigue. That’s why you should make important decisions in the morning and that’s why it’s a reason to delegate finicky tasks that involve lots of small, unimportant decisions.

As the manager, the buck stops with you if the balance of work is not working out. It’s your responsibility to employ or train colleagues who are capable of covering the workload. If you’re unwilling to pass tasks onto them, then either your hang-ups or their lack of training is probably to blame and there’s usually an inherent lack of trust.

In terms of hang-ups, one of the chief suspects is something called, ‘self-enhancement bias.’ It’s such a common issue that approximately 60 percent of professionals rate their talents higher than their peers would rate them. Try to be objective about the results you get and the results your colleagues might get with the same task.

As for training your staff to take on bigger and more complex responsibilities, it has lots of significant benefits. Aside from equipping them to confidently handle tasks that were previously occupying your own valuable time, investing in staff training and professional development with things like workshops can prevent talented employees from becoming stagnant and unfulfilled. Most employees don’t feel their bosses provide adequate access to training and development programs.

To improve trust and delegation requires work. So get together with the team and discuss the potential of the new workflow. Your employees may have their own ideas about competencies they’d like to develop, and responsibilities they’d like to try. Or they may already feel overworked, in which case you’ll need to think of another way to restructure the workload.

Tip: Did you already play Delegation Poker with your team?

It can be beneficial to work together on delegated tasks, so the employee sees how you do things and you gain the confidence to finally leave them to it.

Once the new system is up and running, make sure to check in with your team regularly to ensure the quantity and quality of work is happening as intended. With feedback loops in place, you’ll be able to fine-tune your approach to delegating and soon see the results in improved revenue, concentration, and workplace morale.

Learn more about delegation and empowerment in a Management 3.0 Foundation Workshop:

Photo credit: Robert Bye (Unsplash)

One thought on "How can managers become great delegators?"

  • Kate Keaney says:

    A great read. Yes, it’s true that there needs to be a good level of trust between managers and their employees. And for this to happen, employees, need to be well trained in their roles. One thing I would add is that no matter how well trained and capable your employees may be, the way in which you delegate is extremely important. By being clear and concise with the tasks you delegate and giving all the relevant details, your employee shouldn’t have any issues in completing the task. But if you don’t give them sufficient information or context, they will either do it wrong or be coming back to you with questions, costing you more time than if you’d just carried out the task yourself.

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