I recently had an eye opening coaching session with a client, Gary who was feeling completely overwhelmed by his role as a Director in a large corporation. He was putting in 70-80 hour workweeks yet never getting ahead. Gary was drained, discouraged and completely unsure how to dig himself out of this mess.
The thing is, Gary had built his career success on hard work and being the ‘go to guy’ on his team. And he had been well rewarded for it.
But now, at a Director level with an entire staff to lead, being the one who consistently raised his hand for projects, took on all the ‘extra’s’ , and used the ‘work harder’ method for keeping up, Gary was on the path to burnout and potentially to derailing the good reputation he had worked so hard to build.
Through coaching Gary realized he had developed work habits that were no longer serving him or his company well. He over-relied on his own ability to get things done and had not mastered the art of effective delegation. Gary had defined himself as someone who ‘can get a lot done’ and was not effectively leveraging the team he now had. He was frustrated. They were frustrated. And his results and lifestyle were suffering.
Here’s the thing: Effective Delegation is the NUMBER ONE skill to master if you want to grow as a leader and get great results in business (and have a life!).
It doesn’t matter if you are a small business with only a tiny support staff, or are the Executive in charge of a large team in a fortune 500 company. In order for you to grow your career, be recognized as a key contributor, and enjoy a decent lifestyle, you’ve got to know how to leverage other people’s talents and abilities. That’s where masterful delegation comes in.
Top 10 Delegation Mistakes
- Not giving enough time to complete the task (either waited too long to delegate or not factoring in a learning curve, other workload or related issues that could impact completion)
- Not clearly communicating details-including results expected, how you want the task done, who else needs to be included, resources available, timeline, purpose of the project or other pertinent details
- Delegating to the wrong person-either delegating to the ‘go to’ person on the team and overwhelming them because they are responsible/good performer; or delegating to someone who is nearest available but not necessarily best fit for the task
- Delegating only the dirty work; not sharing the glory of a complete job well done
- Reverse delegation-when you notice that work is off track, you take it back rather than coaching and supporting your team member
- No clear guidelines for reporting in, monitoring or getting feedback
- Not building in ‘slack time’ –giving the hard deadline as the only deadline, creating a crisis situation if the task isn’t done to standards or if problems arise that delay things
- Giving a developmental assignment when you don’t have time to develop
- Delegating pieces of the task rather than full scope and authority to complete the entire assignment
- Not communicating to other stakeholders that you have delegated the task and authority to someone on the team; people still come to you for input and/or don’t respond to the person you’ve appointed because they don’t know they are in charge
Did you recognize yourself in any of these common ‘delegation’ mistakes? If so, it’s time to turn things around. Here’s a simple checklist to help you become a STAR delegator:
STAR Delegation Checklist — Scope / Timing / Authority / Resources
Your first shift is to go from “how can I get this done” to “who on my team can get this done?” You should only be focusing on your highest payoff activities-those things that drive the biggest results and that use your skills and talents the most.
Then, consider who on your team has the skills, talent and time to handle a project that comes your way. And, when you delegate a project or task, make sure you communicate these basics to become a STAR Delegator:
- SCOPE: What is the task or project? How do you want it done? Who else needs to be involved?
- TIMING: When is it due? What are key check in points or milestones?
- AUTHORITY: How much authority do they have? Who has final authority to approve?
- RESOURCES: What RESOURCES-money, people, materials, information, technology– are available to assist them