As leaders we are always looking for ways to maximize the results of our time.
You’ve heard of the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule: 20% of our effort yields 80% of our results, and the other 20% comes from 80% of our effort. It reminds us we have high-value and low-value items on our to do list. And the Pareto principle is often paired with the urgency/importance matrix, sorting tasks into categories and assigning action steps.
Now, these are fantastic tools for improving productivity – they certainly shape how we see our daily agenda. But if we use them for their intended purpose, that means we’ve got to minimize, reduce, cut back…
That’s right – we’ve got to delegate!
Many leaders have a love-hate relationship with delegation. On one hand, lightening the leader’s load frees them up to work in their area of strength or passion. And when the leader works more efficiently, they serve the team better. Plus, empowering team members to do additional tasks instills confidence and conveys trust.
But on the other hand, delegating means letting go. It means giving up something that used to be ours. Perfectionists have a tendency to hold on to make sure the thing is done “right” – other leaders might feel the need to prove themselves, so they hold onto tasks they consider important.
But look at it this way: whatever is costing you time is costing your organization money!
Delegating tasks can free up your time and empower your team. But as you delegate, avoid these common missteps with three simple strategies:
1. Lack of clarity in communication.
Mistake: Some leaders do not offer their team members enough information to complete the delegated task. What is clear, obvious, or intuitive to one person might not be to someone else – especially if they have a different communication style, experiential background, personality type, or (especially) team role.
Strategy: With a delegated task must come plenty of details. Offer team members the who, what, when, where, and why of projects:
· Who: team collaborators
· What: specifics of completing the task
· When: deadlines
· Where: channels of communication and task completion
· Why: greater context of and purpose for the task
Mistake: When leaders hand off a task, they may feel compelled to guide the hands of the team member they’ve given it to. And some leaders take this to an extreme – checking in constantly for updates, correcting simple differences in procedure. It communicates a lack of faith in the team member and undermines their confidence.
Strategy: When delegating, make sure your team member knows you are available if they need help – and then go hands-off. Understand that as a leader, you have entrusted this person with this task for a reason. If you’d like progress updates, consider requesting regular check-ins from your team member when you delegate the task.
3. Delegating to the wrong person.
Mistake: Not every member of your team is equally equipped to handle every task on your plate. Sometimes leaders delegate a task, and the person they’ve chosen is not the best team member for that task.
Strategy: Each member of your team has strengths and weaknesses, interests and preferences, busy seasons and slow seasons. When delegating, it pays to know your team so that you know who is the best fit for the task.
Apple founder Steve Jobs is not just known for creating the computer I’m using to write out this email. He’s also known for his legendary vision. He created one of the world’s largest companies from his garage. And he knew the importance of managing his time:
“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
This week, take a look at your weekly to do list. Consider what you must do, what you can schedule for later, what you can give to your team, and how you can set them up for success with you give it to them.
That’s all for now. 🙂
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