A team is called a team because its output is not the work of only one person but of everyone in it. However, what sometimes happens is that the team leader or the one in the position of authority does many, if not all, of the tasks. In order to be productive, tasks should be delegated.
Delegating tasks entails communication, trust, and coordination and these make it a serious business. The risk that a task will not be completed on time or even started at all is high. And when certain aspects of the project fail, the team fails, and the blame is put on the leader. This is one of the reasons why sometimes leaders don’t like to delegate and just opt to take the entire burden on their shoulders. What are the other reasons why many people don’t like to delegate?
Reasons why leaders don’t like to delegate
When a task is not done, everybody points their finger at the manager who is the overseer of everything. As it is much more bearable to be loaded with work than being blamed for everything that goes wrong, leaders opt to just do everything themselves. Here are other reasons why they don’t like to delegate.
- Most leaders think they can do it better themselves. It’s a natural thing to think that if one’s position is higher, he or she is better. There are two psychological processes that are thought to be behind this idea—the self-enhancement effect and the faith in supervision effect.
- The self-enhancement effect means that if a manager gets more involved in a task, his evaluation of it would be that the work is of better quality.
- The faith in supervision effect is the common thought of people that a task is better if it was performed under the watchful eyes of a supervisor than if it didn’t get as much supervision.
These thoughts reflect one important thing and that is, the team lacks the trust and respect that they should have for one another’s skills sets.
- Most leaders think delegating is just passing off work to another person. Any leader wouldn’t want to be thought of as lazy because he passes off work to his subordinates. However, delegating does not equate to laziness because its main purpose is to strengthen a team and make it more productive. According to the founder of MackayMitchell Envelope Co, Harvey Mackay, leaders who think like this end up wasting their time and the resources of the company.
- Most leaders are afraid to let go. Leaders find it hard to let go of their own work that they find it just as hard to let other people help them. Carol Walker, the president of Prepared to Lead, says that it is hard for leaders to give up their being the go-to expert of the team. Fortunately, members also want to succeed as much as managers do so they will seldom fail if they are aware that other people’s destinies are in their hands.
When should we delegate?
Delegating tasks doesn’t mean passing on to other people everything that is in a manager or leader’s hands. It is also as important to understand that not everything should be delegated. So the question now is, when is it right to delegate? Here are some guide questions to know if delegation is appropriate.
- Is there anyone else in the team who has the skills set and expertise to do a particular task? If so, delegating is a good idea because leaders are giving that specific person a chance to prove himself and hone his skills to make him better at it.
- Will there be a similar task in the future? If the answer is yes, then, delegating is a must. The next time the task comes up, that same person will know how to do it better.
- Will the task allow a person to develop his skills? As they say, practice makes perfect. Instead of sending the person to a seminar or skills training which is more expensive, giving him hands-on experience with coaching is more helpful.
- Is there enough time to delegate the task effectively? Leaders have to understand that even if a member already has the basic skills and idea on how to go about with the task, there will still be the need to do a little training, communicate instructions, check on the progress, and review the output.
Now, we have come to the last question.
How to delegate tasks effectively?
Delegating is no easy task even if it seems very simple. These strategies will help managers learn the skill and eventually become better as they practice it regularly.
- Create a priority system and follow it. There are many ways to do this and it will vary depending on the nature of the task, industry where the company belongs, and the team’s expertise. However, tasks should be categorized according to the degree of effort and skills it requires. From here, leaders can put together tasks under the highest-skilled category where his tasks should come from. Then, other tasks that fall under the lower-skilled category can be delegated to other members.
- Accept that letting go is crucial. Again, many leaders find it difficult to delegate because they couldn’t let go of the tasks that they feel should be accomplished by them. If it is too hard because he thinks no one in the team has the necessary skills and expertise, then, a good start is to do it first with the small tasks. Eventually, leaders will be able to get to know their team’s strengths and skills and become confident in delegating the bigger tasks.
- Provide instructions all the time. Instructions are always an inherent part of delegating tasks. What may be obvious and self-explanatory to a leader might be blurry to a member. So, if there is a specific instruction as to how to complete the task, a good leader will impart that to the assigned member. If everything is set clear from the beginning, the task will be completed more quickly and accurately which will ultimately save time and resources.
- Get to know the member’s strengths. Not everyone in a team has the same skills set and strengths. Some do better while some others need more help and supervision. Identifying the skills of every member is important because delegation should be based on which member has the most number of skills that are relevant to the task at hand. Delegating should not be based on who is the newest member of the team or on who is available and most convenient.
- Impart skills. Leaders are not only delegators but are also teachers. This is helpful, especially if there is no one in the team who has sufficient know-how of how a task is supposed to be done. Not having someone suitable for the task doesn’t mean the task cannot be delegated. It can still be done by conducting a quick training on how it is done which is an important part of delegating.
- Check-in on the member’s progress. As mentioned above, delegation is about trust. Leaders, though they trust their members, should take the time to check in on their member’s progress every now and then. This also serves as an avenue for communication and understanding and letting the member know that a leader is always ready to help.
- Allow feedbacking. The success of a delegated task is not always certain which is why there should be a way to provide feedback to improve future delegations. As leaders, they should commend their members publicly for a job well-done but provide constructive criticisms on areas that need to be improved. Feedbacking should also be two-way wherein members are encouraged to share their thoughts about the delegation process.
Team effort is always important; otherwise, there is no point in creating teams if only the leader will work.