“No good leader puts off to tomorrow what they can delegate today” are the wise words of Peter Drucker. Many of the leaders I work with have a difficult time delegating. As a matter of fact, there has only been one executive in my career who was known to be the master delegator. We can all take proactive steps to delegate more. Sometimes we don’t delegate because we incorrectly believe that we can and should do it better ourselves. The flaw with this thinking is that once we spend time on something, we can’t get that time back – ever. The most successful leaders are regularly asking themselves if what they are doing at the moment is the highest and best use of their time.
There are essentially two reasons to delegate: Productivity and employee development. Delegating for productivity is when you ensure that a given task is performed by the lowest paid person who is capable of successfully performing said task or assignment. If you are paid $100 per hour and your Assistant is paid $40 per hour and is fully capable of performing the assignment, obviously the assignment should be delegated, even if you like doing this work! The additional benefit to you (and the organization that pays you) is that you can use that time saved on thinking or some other high level task that only you can do. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the value of this concept; they are surprised when they don’t see better outcomes.
Delegating for employee development is when you invest some time to develop the skills of one of your employees so that they can perform a recurring task (analysis of the department spending each month) or new assignment (research the competitive strategies in the xxx industry). By investing your time in teaching, coaching and developing your employee, you have allowed the employee to gain some new, valuable skill, encouraged an employee and given them the opportunity to be more fully engaged, thereby driving up loyalty, performance and efficiency.
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As a leader, your role is to focus on getting the right things done; therefore, do not be overly concerned about how the assignment gets done, only that the desired outcome or result is achieved.
- Identify work you do that others who are paid less can perform for you, even if they need a little training. Pick at least one task for each member of your team.
- Discuss your desired outcome, performance standards and ask for their commitment.
- Hold them accountable by reviewing their progress and the final outcome, providing appropriate feedback along the way.
What can you do to become a master delegator? Feel free to leave a comment below.