To delegate or not to delegate? That is the question.
Delegation is something that’s a struggle for many. The two biggest obstacles to delegation and causes of micromanagement are CONTROL and TRUST.
The person delegating wants to control what’s done, when it’s done and how it’s done. In that case, it shouldn’t be delegated because it’s going to drive you and the other person crazy.
Secondly, there’s a lack of trust at some deeper level in the person who will now be responsible for the task or project being delegated. If there’s a lack of trust, then the delegation is already set up to fail because the person will be questioned every step of the way versus trusted to deliver on the task at hand.
I understand it. You want things to be done accurately and a lack of delegation is not always intentional.
You want it to be done right and on time and figure it’s easier to just do it yourself.
But sometimes that tight control can prevent you, your team and others from really developing and growing in their career.
It can also add more things to your plate as a leader, so the release of control is key for you to successfully delegate and avoid micromanaging at work.
Here are 3 simple ways to start delegating and stop micromanaging:
1) Clarify the “What” and “Why.”
As you’re delegating, clarify what you’re looking for and talk about why you’re looking for that project or task to be done. Sharing how it’s connected to the bigger goal will help the other person understand exactly what you’re wanting from them.
Share your expectations. Avoid being vague or broad about what you want.
Be very clear and specific about what you’re looking for in that task and your expectations in terms of accuracy.
Work with them to determine when the task needs to be done to avoid overwhelm or frustrations if deadlines aren’t met. Get them excited about the task by sharing how this will positively impact the company, clients or team once it’s complete.
2) Let them figure out the “How.”
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “I know exactly how this task or project should be done.” This is the hardest step in delegating.
But, this is where micromanagement usually shows up.
Remember, the control piece that we reviewed earlier?
This is where it rears its ugly head. Letting go is the hardest thing each of us must do. Once you’ve clarified what you want and why, it’s easier to say how you’d do this task or start walking them step by step how you think they should do something.
Micromanagement is avoided by fully trusting and releasing control of how things get done and letting them do it their way. But leverage Tip # 1 to clarify what you expect to see from their work.
You might be surprised by the outcome because this person may have an expertise, passion or skillset just waiting to be used in their role. Letting them run with this project can keep them excited and engaged in their work.
Or, delegation can help them develop and grow a skillset that ultimately saves you time and frees you up to truly drive the vision and overall strategy forward and mentor and coach all of your team members.
3) Check in.
Your job is to help support the team in getting results and remove any barriers to getting things done.
This happens through regular check-ins.
Because check-ins are focused on the “when.”
Many delegation efforts go off track because the task is forgotten once it’s off the “delegator’s” plate.
And the task is done too late… or even worse, it’s never done.
The check-in is the key to successful delegation because it’s a way for you to offer support, tools and resources to your team if they need it. It gives you a chance to help course-correct if something is a little off track without feeling an urge to step back in to complete the project or task yourself.
Let them do it, but offer guidance and direction if something is a little bit off course.
And if you need it to be done sooner, share that the timing needs to be adjusted, but help them remove other items off their schedule if possible.
The check-in can help both of you shift other priorities if you need the task or project finished ahead of the original schedule.
At this point, everyone should be clear on what, why and how things will be done. The goal of the check-in is to confirm progress to see where things are headed and when they’ll be completed. This keeps things on track and everyone on the same page.
Now you have 3 simple ways to successfully delegate at work.
So, to delegate or not to delegate? Yes, yes and more yeses.
Successful delegation is good on so many levels and it’s really centered around effective communication. It supports team growth and helps you and the team build new skills that can elevate everyone’s success long-term.
Your professional relationships will be better when communication is specific clear and simple. Clarifying what you want and why, letting them figure out how to do it with shared expectations around priorities, and checking-in will make for better delegation.
About the Author – Nicole Andrews, MBA, MHRD, is Vice President, Human Resources at McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. Based at the firm’s headquarters in Greenville, S.C., she has 15+ years of professional experience in the field of business and human resources. Nicole has a passion for coaching and career development, inclusion, engagement, employee and organizational development, and performance improvement. Connect with Nicole on LinkedIn.