Delegation. Does it come easy to you? It took me several months in a new role to fully understand why workplace delegation skills are beneficial and how to handle them effectively. I hope by sharing the story of my personal transition from doer to delegator your learning curve will be shorter.
As the idea for this blog developed, I discovered an excellent piece on the 5 Tips for Becoming a More Effective Delegator written by Diane Hamilton, owner and founder of Calibra. She articulates why the lack of delegation is detrimental to an organization and how it negatively impacts staff morale. She said all the things I’ve discovered to be true. Very powerful advice.
Throughout my career, I’ve been willing to roll up my sleeves, work alongside those I supervise and get the job done. In the past, I honestly believed that handling tasks on my own instead of delegating them to someone else was the right thing to do. I wanted to avoid the appearance of pushing my work onto someone else.
Then about seven years ago I was promoted and my work responsibilities expanded. I was excited to grow personally and professionally. However, the increased workload quickly frustrated me. New assignments got bogged down because old tasks kept taking all my time and focus.
For some reason it took months to figure out that when my boss asked me to do something, she didn’t literally mean that I had to be the one to do it. She expected me to delegate. Her advice on one particularly frustrating day became my aha moment. Suddenly I understood the importance of delegation.
She asked what would happen to the organization if the people I supervised found different jobs. That was a horrible thought because they were talented and added tremendous value. My job would have been much harder had any of them left. She gently advised me that those talented employees were also looking for ways to grow personally and professionally. And if I refused to make the transition from being the doer of the tasks to the delegator of the tasks, the organization risked losing them and I risked burnout.
I forced myself to think differently about managing processes I’d always handled personally. When an issue or situation needed research, I delegated the responsibility. When an important letter, email or paper had to be drafted, I delegated the responsibility. If someone else could handle a client meeting, I delegated the responsibility.
I quickly discovered that delegation produced empowerment. Not only for me, but for those to whom I delegated. They now had new challenges and growth opportunities. My reward was not only the focus to conquer my new workplace challenges, but fewer process and decision making bottlenecks, less personal stress and employees who enjoyed the chance to shine.
If you struggle with the leap from doer to delegator, force yourself to figure out why and then change your behavior. Empower yourself and those you supervise. It will be one of the best transitions you ever make.