Proper delegation is one of the most jacked up concepts in business.
We think delegating is giving someone a task and expecting that they do it. Here’s why that doesn’t work:
You’re overloaded with stuff so you decide to take something off your plate. You find somebody to give it to & wait for them to either do it very well (and make you happy) or screw it up totally. They screw up & now you have to take it back & do it yourself.
Here’s the crazy thing, that’s what most people think delegation is. Know why? I’ve said it & I’ll say it again:
“Who taught you? You learned to (fill in the blank) from the leaders before you.”
So change it. The proper way to delegate is to not just hand off a task. Instead, your job as a leader is to set your team up for success.
A while ago I interviewed Stephen MR Covey and one of the great things that he said about delegation was,
“Don’t just delegate tasks but delegate the results as well.”
When you only delegate tasks then that’s what people are going to get done. When you delegate the results they’ll look to fill in the gaps; the things that they haven’t been told to do.
Now, this can take some time. It is a long process but it’s a fantastic process when you do it correctly. When you’re ready to hand off a task, make sure that you’ve answered every single question your team member may have. Give them every tool that they need. Whatever it is, you’re constantly going to them & doing what I call the correct way of micromanaging.
Micromanaging is usually a bad word in the business world because it represents “Hey, did you get that done?” or “Why hasn’t that happened yet?”
Instead, for me, micromanaging is crucial to proper delegation. It’s coming alongside somebody & asking a few simple questions:
- “Is there anything I can do for you?”
- “Are there any questions you have?”
- “Are there any tools you need?”
- “Does everything about this make sense?”
If you will do this with your team members, if you will make sure they’re taken care of & made to be successful, than eventually, they will actually be successful in the process.
In Ken Blanchard’s book,
The One Minute Manager, he talks about being able to lead a team so well that literally you only have to spend a minute with them. When you do a great job of making your team successful in their processes, in their day-to-day tasks, so much so that they completely understand what they're supposed to do, they do it.
As I write this, I realize some of you might be thinking, “I have absolutely no time to do this.” That's probably true, but it’s your fault because you’ve waited too long to delegate properly. Now you're stressed out, you’ve got too many things on your plate and you’ve got to do something about it.
Don’t turn to the closest person and hand something off if you don’t have the time to make them successful in the process. I can promise you they will fail. You’ll take the project or task back & add it back into your pile of things that have to get done. Guess what? You’re still overloaded. That is exactly why delegating correctly is so important.
I love the the lesson of “The Law of The Lid” in John Maxwell’s book,
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You.
You put a lid on your own organization when you stop growing. You have to make sure that you're spending time pouring back into yourself because your team as a whole cannot grow passed you. Start investing in yourself by taking the time to properly delegate to your team.