Some of the common and frequent reasons that I have heard are that will take too long to train someone effectively, or if too much is delegated, they’ll have nothing left to do. Surely, we want our leaders to be competent, but they were not born with the skills they have. And as far as I am concerned, if they learned various processes and methods, so can someone else.
Admittedly, some processes are more difficult to learn and require more training or experience before being ready to receive those additional responsibilities. I also believe that it is natural for leaders to have some trepidations that the work won’t get done at all, or more likely, it won’t be done according to their high standards. I think that we can say that it is human nature to be reluctant to delegate control especially if you have a tendency toward perfectionism.
The cure for this reluctance to delegate is the realization that you can’t do everything yourself. One of the surest ways to maintain growth in your business or profession is by assuming increasingly higher levels of responsibility yourself and you can’t drag previous responsibilities along with you forever.
Here are five ways to start delegating:
1. Create a culture where mistakes are tolerated. All senior leaders must understand that mistakes are acceptable — as long as people learn from them. No one will accept more responsibility, try new things, or risk making a mistake if they get yelled at or penalized. This is essential.
2. Take the”Chimp or Gorilla off your back. Whenever someone comes to you with a question, he takes the monkey off his back and puts it on yours. Don’t accept that “chimp or gorilla.” Instead, ask, “What do you think?” Tell all your direct reports, and have them tell theirs, that when people want to know how to solve something, they must also present potential solutions.
They should be ready to discuss the factors that should be considered, and provide reasons why one solution seems better than another. Pretty soon people will become more autonomous, feel more empowered, need less supervision, and get people in the habit of thinking critically. That’s good input for determining succession planning and promotions.
3. Ask your direct reports what part of your job they think they can do. You’ll be surprised how readily they’ll accept more work when given the chance to choose. And be sure to tell them to ask their own direct reports the same question. This chain creates a process of building skills throughout the organization.
4. In formal reviews, include a specific rating for delegation. Do not just mention delegation in passing. It should merit a specific grade. Discuss with managers how they can delegate one-third of their job to one or more of their direct reports. Ask them to develop a specific timeline with the peoples’ names to which they’ll delegate.
5. Communicate to your staff that pay increases only accompany increased value. Increased value comes not only with increased effort, but with increased assumption of higher-level responsibilities and duties — those duties you might be doing now.
It’s so tempting to solve others’ problems by giving quick solutions, but that makes staff dependent on you. The next time your associates ask you what to do, pause, look straight in the eye of the “chimp or gorilla” that is poised and ready to leap on your back, and then simply turn the question back to them.
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