BY Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
Leaders often fall into the trap that they “need to delegate” more. For some reason, they’ve been led to believe that delegation is always a good thing. It’s not!
If you delegate to someone who isn’t ready for the task or to someone who doesn’t want the responsibility, you will have a disaster on your hands.
So, how can you do a better job of delegating?
My first suggestion in trying to improve delegation skills is for you to always remember: “Delegate more effectively — don’t just delegate more frequently.”
My good friend and mentor, Dr. Paul Hersey, showed me why more delegation is not necessarily better delegation. If we delegate an assignment to a person who lacks the motivation and ability to do the job, we do a disservice to both the person and our organization. We need to delegate to people who are ready to handle the challenge not to those who are not.
To get delegation right, begin by scheduling one-on-one conversations with each of your direct reports. Ask each direct report to list his or her key areas of responsibility. Then ask them, “Within this area of responsibility…
- Are there areas where I need to ‘let go’ or delegate more to you?
- Are there areas where I need to get more involved or provide more help to you?”
If you are like most leaders, you will probably find that while there are some areas where you need to let go more, there are other areas where your direct reports would appreciate more of your involvement. Tailor you delegation strategy to fit the unique needs of your team.
After getting your direct reports’ input on how you manage them, get their ideas on how you manage yourself. Ask,
- Do you ever see me doing things that I don’t need to be doing?
- Can I let go of some of my work and give it to my staff members?
If you are like most leaders, you are probably wasting some of your time on activities that a manager at your level doesn’t need to do. By delegating these activities to staff members you may simultaneously free up some of your own time (for more strategic work) and help to develop them.
After getting input from your direct reports, don’t promise to do everything that everyone suggests. Just promise to listen to their ideas, think about all of their suggestions, get back to them, and do what you can.