If there’s one bit of advice that all business leaders should be given, it’s that they must learn to delegate. It’s an important skill – not only for your own mental health and stress levels, but also to empower your team and develop their skills.
But let’s be honest – delegating isn’t always that easy. You might expect to have some trouble handing over control when you’re a new leader, transitioning from the doing side of things to the leading side. But even long-term business leaders have trouble giving work to someone else.
What makes delegating difficult?
For many business leaders, the inability to delegate often comes from experience – a bad one. They’ve passed a task over, giving a team member total freedom, and it all went completely wrong. When you are ultimately responsible for the outcome, this failure rests on your shoulders, so it’s understandable you won’t want to repeat that again.
Setting boundaries for effective delegation
But there are ways to reduce the risks. There’s handing tasks over – and then there’s delegating like a pro. The key is to understand what, exactly, you are handing over, and what you aren’t. Boundaries matter.
Have you ever found yourself thinking, “it would just be so much quicker to do this myself?”. Of course you have, especially if it’s a job you’ve done many times before. But even you had to learn how to do the job first – someone delegated it to you, once upon a time. Is it reasonable to expect someone else to nail the same job straightaway, or do they need more support?
- Have you explained the task properly?
- Have you asked them to repeat back what they understand needs doing?
- Have you checked in with the person to see how they are coping?
- Have you made sure you’re available to answer questions?
- Have you been clear about what you expect to be done, and by when?
Think about those boundaries you need in place. Delegating isn’t just black and white – it’s not a choice of do it yourself or get someone else to do it. You need to consider how much freedom you’re handing over to make decisions and how much you still need to oversee. The clearer you are about is the reality of this, the easier your team will find it to hit your expectations. If your employee is doing a job for the first time, they will most likely appreciate some guidance around where their responsibility begins and ends too.
And, if they aren’t happy about your boundaries? Well, it’s not always a negotiation. As the leader, it’s up to you to give a clear and simple instruction of what, how and when to do something by. Don’t ever pretend there is freedom where there isn’t. Ultimately, they just have to accept that you’re grateful for your input but sometimes they just need to do it your way.
Delegating skills helps empower your team
Remember as well that boundaries are not set in stone. As your people become more experienced, you can allow them more room to make decisions. This empowers them, making for a happier team with good morale – and increases the skills and knowledge in your business.
Where there’s room for more creativity, agree the goal and deadline but give them a choice in how to do it. You never know, they may even find a better or more effective way of getting there – after all, innovation is how businesses grow.
Like all new skills, delegating is a skill that you can learn, including how to have those boundary setting conversations. And when you need support in developing leadership skills, we’re on your side. Call us today to find out more.