Delegation is the name of the game and I want to play that game with you. Sir Bruce Forsyth obviously never sang it like that but if we want to be the king of our castle we have to learn to delegate – properly. And I use the word properly because I was asked to design a course for a client as they said we’re delegating, but not getting the results so obviously we’re not doing it right.
Bad or poor delegation can at times cause more problems and damage relationships than if you didn’t delegate at all. And as some people have experienced that, it’s exactly what they choose to do, not delegate.
Then again sometimes we are our own worst enemy as we buy into common reasons why we should delegate, some even sound rational. However, before you continue to execute them, or accept them from people you lead, have a double check.
So, here are 4 classic reasons why leaders don’t delegate.
My team are so busy already
I hear this one so much, “my team is already busy, I don’t want to burden them, it’s not fair.” My suggestion here is that you check, are they busy on the right things and not still doing tasks that long ago expired in usefulness but are still habits. Check they’re clear on the key deliverables and goals so they can access their own efficiency and effectiveness.
I can do it faster
You probably can, and if you have more experience than them then I would expect this to be the case too. If the thing you want to delegate is a 1 off then it wouldn’t make sense to invest the time in showing them how to do it. And after that, you know that practice builds speed. Plus look at simple maths; 1 hour of your time is more than 1 hour of their time. Perhaps even if it’s a one-off, if they can do it without your input and it takes a bit longer it could still make sense. It all depends on what you’re going to be doing with your time.
I can do it better
Now on this one, I like to play devil’s advocate. You can do it well, but better? One of the benefits of delegating is a fresh pair of eyes. There’s your way and their way. They may do it differently and get the same result. They may do it differently and get an improved result, eg it could be better, more, faster, innovative or a leap in the outcome.
Should you be feeling at all insecure then you won’t want this to happen. You hang on or get prescriptive in how things are done. Yes, there are some thing’s that are defined, prescriptive and creativity and freedom most certainly aren’t appropriate – but I’m not talking about those things here.
What if you saw this as an opportunity to transfer some of your knowledge and wisdom, thereby developing the person in this role, maybe even using the time with them to strengthen your relationship, to better understand their career aspirations in an indirect way. Perhaps even in the back of your mind ,you’re also thinking about your succession plan.
I know of someone who has been turned down for a promotion because there is no one in his team that can replace him. He was processing is shock and disappointment and wondering what to do to change this. He gave me every reason I’ve just covered. He thought he was being a good leader by protecting his team. “They really enjoy working with me” and I’m sure that they did. I asked him, “where have you given them space to surprise you show you what they can really do?”.
“When have you not picked up the pieces for them?”. His reply “I don’t want them to fail, to lack confidence, they’re really nice people.” My thoughts to him were that it sounded more like he was parenting them rather than leading them. He pondered for a few minutes and said upon reflection he could see how his best intentions were indeed holding everyone back.
I don’t trust them
Again we need to look beneath the surface of this one. What is the source of the lack of trust? I like to explore the 4C’s of trust. Credibility, Capability, Confidence, Character.
Capability clearly is the easy one. They don’t yet have the capability, so you decide how you will develop this. In many other cases, it’s about the quality of the conversation, communication style and ability to set clear expectations – extend the trust and 9 out of 10 people won’t let you down.
Now under the banner of trust upon exploration, we get to the real issue, control. As in if I give this to another person I’m not in control like I like it to be. Hone your risk management and decision-making skills. Learn to let go. You’ll become better at discerning is this something I need to keep control of, or can you use this as an opportunity to improve the relationship you have with the other person to increase trust between both of you. Mmm, worth remembering it is a two-way process, what if they don’t trust you as much as you either need or want them to? It may help if you look at the 4C’s relating to yourself.
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