Since delegating work plays such an important role for successful Leaders, why are most of them not doing it, or not doing enough? Why do we see Leaders attending to routine low-level tasks? There are various reasons why we – Leaders and managers – avoid delegating tasks and responsibility mainly because they see their job as a problem solver and not a problem giver.
You rate a Leader not based on how badly their people need them but what can their people do with them! Additionally, here are some of the traps that prohibit effective delegation and how to avoid them.
1. The Leader does not trust employees with the responsibility. Even the most skillful manager will have this nagging feeling that the person tasked with the job cannot carry it out in the way he wants. Maybe the manager is a perfectionist. If so, the problem lies with the manager having expectations that are too high and onerous. It could also be that the manager does not have a habit of giving clear instructions on what the task entails. Although managers should not have to resort to holding the staff’s hands in every matter, it is always advisable to clearly define the tasks and leave no room for doubt. Ultimately, the questions that we should ask ourselves are these – If we do not trust the staff, why do we employ them in the first place? If they don’t have the skill, why don’t we send them for further training?
2. Only the Leader knows best. While it is true that experience is what earn the managers their position, nobody can claim to be a walking encyclopedia on all matters. The workers on the front line day in and day out, are the only people who know the work and the problems faced at the back of their hands.
3. The Leader can work faster on our own. If we have done a piece of work before, we can do it again faster and better. We can continue taking on the same assignment and after the hundredth time, we may complete it twice as fast. Think then, if we train another person to do it, will that person not be able to arrive at the same achievement over time? We are freeing up more of our time to focus on our bosses problems.
4. Leaders lose control. How much control do we want? Are we really concerned about the process or the outcome? We can work with the employee to come up with a mutually agreeable process, but it is the outcome that we are targeting. By assigning the job, we risk losing control over the little bits of how the job is done although we can continue to maintain control over the important aspects of the job by spelling out the expected output and performance targets as well as quality control checks and standards.
5. Leaders lose their authority. This again depends on how you view the word “authority”. We may not have direct supervision over groups of employees. They will report to their immediate supervisors. However, these supervisors are now under our charge, and our authority is in effect extended. It is akin to changing our authority from a parent to a grand-parent. In a typical family structure, the grand- parent status is the most revered and respected.
6. Leaders may lose credit and recognition. This is a sore point which most managers have. Assigning jobs means letting other people take the credit for jobs well done. Can this be true? If we believe in the concept of teamwork, won’t the achievement of a team accrue to every team member, including the leader of the team? If our employees steal the limelight for an accomplishment, will some light not be thrown onto us as well for our good leadership and management? Good managers should also be professional enough to acknowledge that the staff who do the work ought to get most of the praises. Nowadays, performance incentives are tied to the team and not individual efforts, and the people leading successful teams are those who are most valued.
7. Employees are not committed. This is where the delegation skills come in. In explaining the tasks, managers should let the employees see how the tasks fit into the overall scheme of things. Let them know the expectations and rewards. Let the employees be the ones raising their hands to volunteer for and commit themselves to the project.
8. Leaders cannot keep track of developments. We mentioned that after parceling out the tasks, our duties do not end there. We have to continue to monitor the progress of the tasks. Usually, this is done by having reporting officers submit detailed status updates on what they have completed and how much of the work is outstanding. This will give us a gauge on whether the work can be completed on time. We are after all responsible for the final outcome and while we should not micro manage the work process, we should not lose track of its developments.
If your managers seem to be under intense time pressure caused by teams that can not function without them, please see how we can help you develop a consistent approach to Leadership with our “Leadership in Action” internally facilitated training system featuring W. Steven Brown, Chairman of the Fortune Group International, Inc. and author of “The 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make* * And How You Can Avoid Them” helps any organization build a method that vastly improves people’s ability to perform.
For a PDF overview of this course and how it can be successfully implemented into your organization just request it by clicking here. We appreciate your time and hope this has helped.
Jim Strutton, CEO
© 2011 Accountability Plus, Inc.