When I lived in Germany, I learned to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road in winter. I lived at the bottom of a hilly street so with snow and ice on the road during winter I felt completely out of control and scared as the car simply slid its way zig zagging down the hill. Brakes were a waste of time, steering had only a small impact to help me not bump into other cars parked in the street.
The feeling of being out of control like this was not enjoyable. All I could think of is, “How do I stop this? How do I not hit another car?”
This is like delegating blindfolded or for the first time. When you don’t have a structure, a map or a process to follow, it feels completely impossible because there’s a sense of having no control.
A quick quiz for you:
- Do you find yourself spending more time than you would like on routine, administrative or menial tasks? YES / NO
- Do you spend significant time giving answers to questions that should already be known? YES / NO
- Do you consistently have more work to do than time available? YES / NO
- Do you spend most of your day putting out spot fires of issues for your team rather than getting on with your work? YES / NO
- You feel an increase in stress levels when you do delegate and can’t feel relaxed until the task is completed? YES / NO
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then the next step is to explore why delegating is not part of your day to day process of managing and leading.
Whether it’s outsourcing or delegating, the process of getting results through others is a cost effective way to execute an ever increasing workload, and to engage and empower your people.
With so many reasons that immediately pop up to validate why managers or business owners don’t delegate or outsource, it can seem natural to just continue piling on to the already endless ToDo List. And it doesn’t take long for this to become an unconscious habit.
- I’m too busy to delegate.
- It’s quicker if I just do it myself.
- I’m not sure they’ll do it to the/my standard.
- I don’t want to cop the blame if it goes wrong, again!
- I tried it once and I had to re-do all the work anyway.
- I tried delegating but it all went pear-shaped.
- I don’t know what I can actually delegate to them.
These are just a few of the reasons my clients tell me why they haven’t delegated. All are true and valid. However they are short-term focused and keep the manager busy, overwhelmed and overworked.
There are nine steps to delegating or outsourcing properly. You know you simply can’t dump a task on someone’s desk as you walk out the door to your next meeting. An email, no matter how detailed, will never be enough to ensure the outsourcing is done to your standard, on time and to budget.
Stepping through each of the nine steps puts control and productivity squarely in your hands. When you know what each step is, when you’ve done them once, you’ll instantly experience a greater sense of control and confidence. Some of steps can be worked through very quickly the more you do them; some will become a simple check rather than an indepth and lengthy process to complete.
To plan your delegation means you will avoid dumping the wrong task on the wrong person while you’re rushing from one meeting to the next. Planning can cause some people’s eyes to glaze over, while at the other extreme others love it so much that they spend their entire time planning and neglect to implement their plans. Whether you fall into one of these two types of ‘planners,’ or somewhere in between, planning is essential for your success. The success of delegating is your planning.
Once the delegation has started, you simply can not disappear! Being accessible during the delegation means you can step in quickly if a problem arises that needs your level of authority or expertise. Furthermore, your presence can provide a sense of support for the delegate. During the delegation, there are three key elements to ensure you stay engaged in the process: outcome, support and tracking.
Work is busy! Some days it can feel impossible to stop and think, however reflection is essential for learning and improving. What did delegating this task or project to that delegate teach you? Reflect on this question prior to asking the delegate what they learned from doing the task or project.
Better still, breaking your reflections down a little further will help you identify where you can improve your future delegating. This process gives you essential information for what to change going forward, what worked really well so that acknowledgement and recognition can be given – to yourself and your delegate!
Having a process, a structure, the nine steps, to follow is what gives you control.