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My way or the highway doesn’t always work

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. — Dwight Eisenhower

All managers and leaders could learn something from those words about the art of delegation. However, it appears many don’t because some seem to think if they don’t do the work themselves, it won’t be done right. That kind of view about management is probably one of the biggest mistakes managers can make.

Some managers may be afraid to delegate because they believe it will take too long to train someone effectively, or if they delegate too much they won’t have any work to do themselves. In other words, it is hard for them to give up control. But when managers fail to delegate, they are disrespecting their direct reports, and that manager is most likely perceived as not trusting others to take responsibility for their work.

The managers that thrive on micromanaging, but also feel threatened by a loss of control are making the job a lot harder for themselves. If you abide by that philosophy, you’ll work more hours because you still need to perform your duties, but you are also taking on the work of your direct reports.

If you don’t want to spend your life at work, you have to learn to let go, and trust your direct reports to get the job done.

The ability to delegate requires more than simply assigning responsibilities and tasks. You have to know the extent to which others can handle assignments. You also need to have a grasp on your tolerance for mistakes. You may require perfect work from yourself, but are those realistic expectations for your direct reports?

There are different aspects of delegation. Too much delegation to one person and you’ll risk alienating that individual along with receiving inadequate results. However, too little delegation keeps others dependant on you, and that can also be overdone.

The key is to find a balance when you delegate, and we won’t leave you hanging; here are some tips to help you delegate more efficiently:

·When assigning responsibility, consider which tasks you could serve as back-up instead of lead; which tasks could be assumed by a group member under your close direction; and whether there are other factors that prevent delegation.

·Delegate each task and describe the expected result (i.e., success, acceptable performance, unacceptable performance) to the person assigned. Then ask the assigned staff member to develop an action plan.

·Note the strengths, weaknesses and work preferences of your staff. Note the type of assignments best suited to each team member. Use this information when you delegate tasks.

·Consider your team members as collaborators rather than subordinates. Use each person’s skills to create a shared outcome. Make team members responsible to each other for performance.

·Delegate in ways that meet the needs, learning styles, and abilities of each person (for example, a newly hired employee will probably need more detailed instructions and background information than an experienced employee).

Do you have any tips for delegation that you’d like to share?

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