It is a well-established fact that organizational thought leaders and those who are charged to build strategies for their teams need to carefully build their schedules in a way that allows them time to think about how the work can and should move forward. Finding that time while also trying to be an accessible team leader can often prove challenging. Outside of managing your calendar to focus on your priorities the best way to get time back is to become an efficient delegator.
Admittedly, it took me a long time to get comfortable with asking people to do things. It can feel a bit entitled at first and one certainly always wants to be seen as a team player who is not above any task. Over time, however, one begins to realize that to be fully effective in a role, one has to be willing to let go of some things. The first part to understand in relation to delegating is the correct philosophy behind it. Having the ability to delegate to others isn’t a license to simply pass what you don’t like or don’t want to do onto someone else. That type of philosophy will end up putting you in a place where you are sometimes passing on tasks you should be working on as well as give you a reputation you don’t want with the team you lead. There will be routine and mundane items that you will need to delegate but over time employing the following steps into your philosophy will make you both a better delegator and a stronger leader. When delegating think through these three things:
Having the ability to delegate to others isn’t a license to simply pass what you don’t like or want to do on to someone else.
This is the fundamental starting point. Does the person understand how this piece of work connects to the larger goal of the organization? Not everyone does nor should everyone have a direct hand in the most important strategies of an organization but everyone needs to feel their work is contributing toward the overall goals. It might be this project supports those who are directly involved. Make sure the people you are delegating to understand the larger connections at hand so that they may also feel the successes that come when the larger goals are achieved.
Not everyone does nor should everyone have a direct hand in the most important strategies of an organization but everyone needs to feel their work is contributing toward the overall goals.
People are wired in a variety of ways and respond to projects differently. Some people like to have a lot of small projects working at any time and have a task list where items don’t get stale and new ones come along quickly. By and large these are short-term project people. Others like to have a lighter load of tasks but take on ones that require more time, effort, and thought to complete. These are generally long term project people. Neither is superior to the other, in fact you need a mix of both on your team. The key is getting the right projects to the right type of person. The projects that need a high level response and have a short turnaround generally don’t bother short-term project people. Projects that move more slowly, have a longer deadline, and need research and input to craft are the types that long term project people like. As you assign projects think about how they stack up and who is wired best to take care of it.
The key is getting the right projects to the right type of person.
Much like the point made in the prior paragraph around organizational purposes; it can also be extremely helpful when your team members understand their potential career path in the organization and how tasks fit into it. It may be that you give a variety of different tasks, some even outside of their job description, to help an employee with potential see and understand the larger work of the organization. When a team member understands both how their work fits into the larger organization’s purpose and how the work can help move their career forward then they will be motivated to take on the tasks and do them well.
Delegation is a fundamental leadership skill as much as preparing strategic documents or knowing how to build budgets. As you seek to lead others well having the skills to understand how to strategically delegate will make you a more effective and productive servant leader in your work.