If you are the typical overworked manager, you are probably hoping to learn how to delegate effectively. Like any professional, you’ll also want to research how to manage workload effectively, but managers (or anyone with underlings) have a special tool that others do not.
Learn To Delegate
Learning to delegate effectively is not as easy as it sounds, either. Speaking from personal experience, when I first began my management career I had a very tough time with it. I had been moved into management because I was able to accomplish a lot of things very quickly, very accurately, and I needed very little oversight.
When I became a manager, I tried as long as I could to do everything. But eventually working long hours and weekends forced me to re-evaluate my plan. I had a management degree and had read all the management books. I knew better than to try and do everything myself. So why was I so hesitant to let anything go?
Because I knew that none of the people that worked for me could do these things as well, or as fast as me. I also knew that I’d waste more time checking their work and fixing it than if I just did it myself to start with. But was that accurate?
Yes and no. It is true that if I just delegated the work away, it would likely get done but not very quickly and, very likely, not correctly. However, if I did my job the way a great manager does, then my team will know exactly what needs to be done, and how quickly, and how to check their own work.
See, the “art of delegating” turns out to be just another function of great managers: coaching your team. Think of it in terms of Return on Investment (ROI). Let’s say Task 1 takes 20 minutes to perform every day. That’s 100 minutes a week. 400 minutes a month. That’s over six hours! You could spend practically an entire workday teaching someone very patiently and carefully and in a month’s time made your initial investment back.
What if you could do that for four tasks? Or five? Or ten? Can you see how teaching your team to perform these extra tasks frees you to do all kinds of things that you never had time for? Additionally, your team is growing and learning new things that will benefit their careers.
Now that you know how to delegate effectively, you need to understand how to not overdo it. Some managers have no trouble at all delegating tasks. They see that as their main job. Something comes up? Delegate! Then they spend their time hounding people about their projects or, worse, they kick back and watch their team slave away. Ah, the perks of management!
This is a poor way to handle delegation. The point is not to push all your work onto other people so you can coast. The point is to delegate the lower level tasks that others can be taught so you can spend your time on more complicated, higher level tasks.
Leaders Learn To Delegate
Weak managers are too afraid of letting go of control to allow their subordinates to learn anything. That idea always struck me as foolish. Unless you want to spend your life in the same job forever, it will be difficult to move up if your workers can’t do anything beyond their most basic job duties. I’m always looking for ways to teach people new things. That’s what frees me up to do new and exciting jobs.
As you are learning how to delegate effectively, you’ll come to appreciate the time you invest now for the payoff you receive in the future.