I was speaking with a friend, who also teaches management training, about the importance of managers having the ability to properly delegate tasks to the members of their team. My friend, we’ll call him Bob for now, told me that he was in the process of coaching a new manager who felt very uncomfortable delegating tasks to his team members because he didn’t think it was right to tell other people what to do. He went on to say that his client knew delegation was part of his job, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Bob went on to say that we taught his client about:
Techniques on delegating the right tasks to the right people to maximize the opportunity for success.
The role that delegation plays in team and department success.
How to measure employee success upon task completion.
Even with this knowledge, however, Bob’s client still cannot effectively delegate to his staff. He then asked me what I could suggest that would help his client. I told him that if his client wanted to be a successful manager, he was going to have to get over it, because delegation was part of his job.
Upon providing this suggestion, I was told that my answer seemed too harsh and insensitive say to his client. I told him that yes, it was harsh and insensitive, but it was also true.
In addition to feeling uncomfortable telling others what to do, people also dislike delegation for a number of reasons including the following:
Thinking you can do it better yourself.
Thinking you can do it faster.
Thinking it will take more time to explain than to do it yourself.
Being control-oriented and would rather do it yourself.
While all of these reasons are potentially valid, it doesn’t mean that managers should personally perform the task. The reason is that it is no longer their job to perform the task.
When managers continue to perform individual-contributor type tasks, the following negative circumstances can arise:
Their team members are not given the opportunity to accomplish new and career-expanding tasks.
They don’t have time to properly perform managerial tasks because they are too busy performing non-managerial tasks.
They will most likely be viewed as not ready for managerial roles because they don’t seem willing to give up their individual-contributor tasks.
New managers must also realize is that doing the work very different than managing the work. As a result, new managers must learn to gain personal satisfaction through the work of others, which is easier said than done. All too often, even seasoned managers, head home at the end of the day feeling like they spent all day in meetings and/or watching the hard work of others. This can give managers feelings of uselessness, guilt, and/or being nonproductive if they don’t conceptually understand that their efforts are shown through the results of others. This concept can best be described in comparison to a symphony conductor. He/she is not playing a musical instrument, but the music would not be as beautiful without his/her planning and leadership.
In closing, delegation is easy for some, difficult for many, ultimately impossible for others. To you, the reader of this column and to the person my friend Bob is coaching, know yourself. If delegation is easy for you, consider yourself fortunate. If delegation is difficult for you, it will become more natural with practice and experience. To those who find it impossible, you may never feel totally comfortable in a managerial role.
The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
If you want to be a successful manager, delegation is part of the job.
If delegation is difficult for you, it will become more natural with practice and experience.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.
Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership, and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him ateric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom or visitwww.ManagerMechanics.com.