Whether you run a Fortune 500 company or a one-person shop, your ability to delegate will be the difference between success and failure. Delegation may be to an employee or a trusted vendor.
Delegation allows you to multiply yourself. It also provides an opportunity for your direct reports to grow within your company.
Right about now, you should be nodding and saying, “Obviously, Bob, tell me something I don’t know!”
So, you understand the importance of delegating. Awesome!
Consider these questions about what you’re delegating, based on the way some managers and company owners I’ve worked with over the past 35 years view the topic:
- When you delegate, are you focusing on your schedule, or on your direct reports’ growth?
- Do you view delegation as the art of offloading tasks you don’t want to do, or tasks that are better suited to the expertise of one or more of your direct reports?
- Do your direct reports own a specific role or job that’s critical to your organization, or are they merely one of your assistants, waiting for a list of today’s tasks to come from you?
- If you draw a flowchart of how your organization functions, how many of the process lines route through your head where some type of decision or approval takes place before the process can move to its next step?
- How many employees do you have waiting to talk to you? Do you feel empowered by how long the line out your door is each day?
- When faced with a crisis, or a short-term deadline, do you pull back all that you’ve delegated so you can do everything yourself to make sure it’s right?
- When you delegate the responsibility for a task to an employee, do you trust them enough to also delegate the authority they need to own that task? If not, why not?
I worked with a manager many years ago who told me how great it was that he had a line of people waiting to see him every time he came back to his office. He said it was the first time he had felt important in his life. Wrong answer, Mr. Important Guy!
I worked with another who told me that, “These people (referring to pretty much everyone in his department) don’t work well under pressure. Whenever we have a tight deadline on a deliverable, I usually stay late and get it done myself. That way I know it’s right.” Wrong answer, Mr. Martyr!
There isn’t a human being on this planet who can carry an entire organization themselves…even though many try. Sometimes, they even fool themselves (and others) into thinking they do it successfully.
The power of any organization comes from its ability to properly delegate, multiply its talent, and foster employee growth. By the way, sometimes the cost of that growth is allowing your employees to make mistakes, or to successfully complete a task in a different way than you would have.
Get delegation right, and everyone wins. Get it wrong, and your employees will stop learning. Their motivation will wane and your organization will ultimately fail.
It’s only a matter of time.