Monday, April 11, 2011

Why Don't We Delegate? Delegation 3 of 7

Managers often find it difficult to delegate, for a variety of reasons.  The barriers to delegation keep the manager from reaching full potential, due to the overwhelming nature of supervision and the myriad of personal tasks that must be accomplished.
Yes, you are probably more efficient at most tasks than your staff, due to experience, knowledge and other strengths.  However, if you insist on doing everything yourself, you’ll quickly find yourself swamped and overwhelmed.  Consequently, you will not have the time to spend on higher-level tasks such as strategic planning and analysis.  In addiction, how can you expect your staff to become proficient if you don’t give them the opportunity to learn?  Delegating to others is one of the best ways to develop talent.
We all have a beginning.  In our infancy as managers, we are not sure about the right way to delegate, the right people to use, the amount of time to allocate, and so forth.  Our challenge is to develop as leaders and enable the use of tools such as delegation.  Delegation is normally a self-taught skill, but not enough is said about finding a mentor.  Asking a senior associate or peer to help you understand the process cannot only save time, but minimize mistakes.  You must pay your dues and delegation is only a step.  As you work in the organization, you probably will notice someone that is very good at managing and motivating others to success.  You might just approach them, in a respectful way, with something like, “I’ve noticed that you are very effective in delegating to others, and are probably more productive because of it.  Would you mind sharing your techniques with me some time?”  We all love appreciation, and a request like this is one of the best forms.
One of the strongest barriers to delegation is the concern that you will overburden your staff, especially for the manager that cares.  One solution is to put a reporting process in placed that allows the manager to be in touch with the workload of each person.  The challenge is to do that without being a micro-manager. 
An excellent way to manage the time and task load of your people is to have a brief ‘touch-base’ meeting on a weekly basis.  Have them prepare a simple report that tells you what their major projects are, what the current status is, and what they need in order to complete the task or move to the next level, and send the report to you in advance of the meeting for your review.  In the meeting, you can simply ask questions, keeping the meeting brief and productive.  If you discover that your staff has so much to do that they cannot accept any new tasks, maybe it is time for addition of more staff.
It is natural for the manager to want to be in constant control of the process, the time utilized and the quality of work within the department.  To delegate is to give up some control, and sometimes this creates a barrier to effective delegation.  The manager must remember that ultimate responsibility still falls to the manager, regardless of who actually completes the task.  The delegator stays in control by delegating to the right person, making sure they have the resources and time necessary to complete the task, monitor the progress, and exchange regular feedback as the process evolves.  Reality is, the manager never really loses control of the project if they manage it correctly.
The delegator and the delegatee must trust each other for the process to work.  We set expectations of each other through experiences and regular contact.  Part of the growth of a relationship involves the feeling that the other person will do what is expected, and be consistent in process.  Trust is conditional and not blind…there are requirements on each side of any relationship if the relationship is functional, and the satisfaction of these requirements establishes trust and expectations.  Good constructive feedback and respect build trust also.  The projects you delegate must be commensurate with the level of trust you have attained working together.  As the trust grows, you can assign more complex and important tasks, release more responsibility, and feel confident that your staff will perform as expected.
Next time, we'll discuss who we should delegate to.  

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