You might have come across leaders who are overwhelmed and feel like the day is missing a few hours. If they had power, they would add a few hours so that they could get more done. The same leaders also state that they don’t know how to develop their employees.
Meet Julia* (not her real name) the head of Customer Relations at Company X leading a team of six (6) people. On a daily basis, Julia runs from one meeting to the next, she misses lunch and critical calls she wanted to make. Before she knows it, the day is over. She puts a few files in her bag to finalize some critical reports at home. At home, she is present but absent because, at the back of her mind, she’s thinking about the report to complete. She compromises her family time and her own health because she cannot sleep enough.
Sounds familiar? You are not alone, most leaders go through this challenge on a daily basis.
Delegation is one tool that leaders ignore or use poorly. If used effectively, delegation has the potential to create more time for the leader and develop employees at the same time. The best way to develop employees is on the job and delegation affords this opportunity.
From my interaction with leaders I realized that before they can delegate, they need to deal firstly with a few MISCONCEPTIONS:
- A sign of weakness: believing that delegation assumes that you are not on top of your game is in itself the sign of weakness. Instead, delegating is a strength demonstrating that the leader is aware of their leadership role. Delegation is about tapping into the capacity of your employees to unleash their potential for greatness.
- There’s not enough time: this is hiding a real issue which is about lack of trust in the ability of the employees to deliver or leaders not knowing how to delegate. If we lead people and we cannot create time for them, why are we in leadership roles? There is always time for that which we value, and this should include fulfilling the leadership mandate to develop our people. It is about realizing that you need to create room for trial and error to gain long term competency.
- Shifting work we don’t like: delegation should not be about pushing easy and routine stuff to employees. It should be about assigning meaningful work that employees can grow from. It’s about stretching their skills and abilities to do more.
- Micromanaging: controlling every small aspect of what you expect employees to deliver is a sign of lack of trust in them. It demonstrates that you have not done enough to capacitate your people. It also indicates that it has not sunk in your head that you are not indispensable.
Here are some pointers to help leaders to delegate effectively:
- Delineate: You still have work to do as a leader, there are things that fall squarely on your lap. This could include strategy, planning or dealing with crisis related to your level of authority.
- Plan: Plan what needs to be done and how it should be done. Until you work it clearly in your head, it will be difficult to communicate.
- Align: Play to the interests and strengths of the team. The idea is not to overburden the employees but to develop them and build their confidence gradually.
- Results: Define how a successful outcome should look like. It is not necessarily about activities but the final results and the timeline within which the tasks should be completed.
There is no other opportunity to multiply your time and create space to do more value-adding work at your level of authority while developing and building a great team for the future. Learn to delegate effectively and align your team to the vision.
Tex Hlalele is a Personal Mastery, Leadership & Organisational Effectiveness Specialist. He is the author of the book, Face the person in the mirror. Book Tex to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement on +2764 656 6174 or visit http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/contact.html