Stop Managing and Learn How to Delegate
You have received feedback from your manager, there are also rumors within your team: you are regarded as a ‘micro-manager’ who tends to get entangled in the many ongoing actions.
“You delivered good results, but we question your ability to let things go and to operate on a strategic level”.
“Hold on!”: you think. “Who are they trying to fool?”
Delegation sounds great on paper, but in the end, it is you who is responsible for important projects and management expects a seamless execution. “How can they expect to have both?”
Managers who tend to micro manage are victims of several misunderstandings about delegation to employees. First there is the supposition that “delegation” has an “on” and “off” switch. In other words: You are the one who reports everything in all situations…, or not, and then you delegate everything. They fail to judge the correct ability of every employee to operate independent and do not create any, or insufficient routine to ‘create’ the execution — the check-ins, the mileposts and statistics — that stimulate a predictable execution. And they forget that there are moments where they will be involved directly again to make an important decision and to keep the project on track within the goals, mission or vision.
Difficulty in delegation can cripple your team and creates an increasing obstacle for your own future possibilities. If you would like to delegate more and wish to push your team forwards, then your changes lie in the answers to the following two fundamental questions:
- Where can I add the largest value to the accomplishments of my team — and as a result, where should I spend my time and energy… and where shouldn’t I?
- Which skills do I need in my team to reach our goals and that allows me to play that value-added role? You cannot change at the flip of a coin. Instead, you design a six-month plan that allows you to delegate ever more and to spend your time on problems and activities that add the most value.
- Where do you think you can spend more time and what allows you to spend less time there?
- Then you evaluate your employees. -> Which team members are very capable and can be challenged to take more responsibility and to operate more independent? Who are your talented people?
- Who are the members of the team who cannot or will not grow even with coaching? You can use this information to plan your strategy, to delegate and to form your team.
After you have allocated more responsibility and self-sufficiency to your most capable employees, you focus less on “how” they are going to tackle a task and more on “what” and “why”. You also leave the “when” as much as possible to the team, but of course you do monitor this.
You try to help the less experienced employees by striving for more independence. Here, more instruction about how things need to be done is appropriate. Your checkup moments will be more frequent and detailed in general.
To enforce their delegation efforts, many managers will make an employee responsible for the enforcement of deadlines and important ‘deliverables’ in their names, so that things don’t get lost in the shuffle. Also, follow-ups of important mileposts that are discussed in team meetings, and the sharing of information so the team knows whether they are on the right track. With this they create a positive team spirit and social pressure because nobody wants to present an update which indicates that they are behind at an important point, without having a solution ready.
It is important to realize that people handle things differently from what you would do yourself. Challenge yourself to see the difference between the “way in which” and the “quality” and the “result” of what is delivered.
While you delegate and only coach those who need it, test intermittently if you are successful in enlarging the learning curve of your employees, so that they can work more independently and if you have made a fundamental difference in the way in which you use your time and energy.
If the answer is “yes”, then you have succeeded in your design on more than one front. You have increased the organizational impact force of your team and you have shown that you can handle more responsibilities, a win-win for your team (…and your chances of promotion).