Even ‘Super You’ needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table.
And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: when you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.
– Author Unknown
Dear Manager, do you feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your career seems stalled? Delegating is often one of the hardest things for a manager to do. You give away your authority to make decisions but are still responsible for the outcome if something goes wrong. You are a manager, you have way too much to do, you’re buried in work, work, work. It seems you are stuck in the deep waters of a vicious cycle. Sometimes you say to yourself….“The future looks bleak and nobody appreciates what I am going through. I am only forty years old and yet I feel like retiring! It seems there is no solution”. Yes, there is…. delegation. Yes, you know it’s important and it has to be done. You know it will save you time and help others develop new skills. So, why aren’t you doing it? Dear Readers, do you find any of these sayings familiar?
Familiar Sayings of Managers
- “Don’t mind them, they are waiting to take over my post…I won’t let them”
- “They are paid to take orders from me. I am also paid to do the thinking.”
- “Even if I go on leave, I will use remote control to monitor them. I will not give them the chance to usurp my post.”
- “They won’t bring their ideas. Some of them are waiting for me to make a mistake, and then they will be called to take over…They are like ants in my cloth. Always ready to bite.”
- “How do I know they will get it right? I am more comfortable when I do it myself.”
- “If I have to scrutinise everything that has been done, its better I do it myself.”
- “They are not trainable.”
- “They are already overloaded with work. I hardly have time to train them.”
- “The risk is too great.”
Delegation is a critical skill
Experts say that delegation is a critical skill. “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Even though delegation benefits managers, direct reports, and organisations, it still remains one of the most underutilised and underdeveloped management capabilities. Company executives are worried about their employees’ delegation skills. Yet, at the same time, they are not ready to offer much training on the topic. You hear many managers say that they are too busy to delegate — that it’s more efficient for them to just do it themselves.
Let us see what Jesse Lyn Stoner says about the Reasons why Delegating is Worth the Risk
- You can manage your time better and increase your efficiency.
- You will stop being inundated with irrelevant details.
- You get out of the mode of going from crisis to crisis.
- You have more time to think strategically and plan for the future.
- You have more time to concentrate on the work that is really important.
- Your team has an opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and increase their effectiveness.
- You improve the quality of decisions because they are being made by those who have the most information and are closer to the situation.
- You are seen as more effective because your team is more effective.
- You show your team that you have trust and confidence in them, which positively affects their attitudes, interpersonal relationships, and performance.
- You increase their commitment to the task, to the team and to the company.
- You create a pool of talent who can take over whenever needed.
- You are more likely to be promoted because it will be easier to fill your position.
Minimising Delegation Risks
Are you now ready to delegate? Let us see some “Whys, Whats, Whens, and Hows” of delegation in order to minimise delegation risks.
What to Delegate
After knowing the above “whys” of delegation, please ponder the following tips which will guide you on what to delegate:
- Have a discussion with your direct reporters and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Seek a view of their skills, interests, and current workload to see how feasible it is.
- Do not delegate performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, confidential tasks, tasks specifically assigned to you, and sensitive situations.
- Allow your direct reporters to have a say in determining which and when tasks are delegated to them.
- Create a career development plan for your direct reporters by delegating activities which might be part of their future responsibilities. For example, work on strategic reports with them in order for them to appreciate the company’s future and see how they can fit in to offer their best. When you are on leave, they will be submitting these reports on your team’s behalf. Credit eventually goes to you the manager. It will show that you are a leader and not just a manager.
- Choose the right people…Some managers fear delegation because they’ve been burned in the past. It’s important that you pass on work to people who have the necessary skills and are motivated to get the job done right.
- But make sure you’re not micro-managing, which wastes everyone’s time – including your own. When determining what to delegate, take into consideration a) whether they have the skills to do the task, b) if they are motivated to do it, and c) whether they have the resources they need.
When to delegate
When delegation is done effectively, it becomes a win-win situation. Not everything can be delegated; so, please do these self-checks:
- Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?
- Does it necessarily have to be done by you?
- Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop the skills of your direct reporters?
- Will time permit you to train the person and delegate? It should include proper training, orientation, trials and reviews before handing over and regular checks.
- Before delegation, you will need to do it with the supervisor for a number of times before delegation. At the unit level, supervisors feel empowered when they have to co-sign reports with the manager, to be submitted to management. It gives them a sense of empowerment and encourages them that they are part of the solution and not always part of the problem.
The Case of the Branch Manager
Before I pause here for next week, let’s look at a case of delegation gone wrong in a financial institution.
Let us look at the case of a manager who was previously a star salesman for the branch, and was promoted to be a branch manager. He told some people in confidence: “As for me, I will concentrate on my sales and marketing specialties and leave everything to the Operations manager. After all, he understands the transactions more, so when he signs I am comfortable with everything done in my absence. The bank concentrates on the ‘bottom line’ and that’s where I come in”.
Instead of asking to be trained for a better birds’ eye-view of various units at the branch, and monitoring sensitive transactions when he was out, he just delegated everything – even his ‘password’ – to get all things done in his absence. The result of this perfect laissez-faire attitude to delegation eventually resulted in him signing his death warrant. You can imagine the consequences!!
Next week we’ll continue with how to minimise risks in delegation, while enjoying the peace that comes with it.
TO BE CONTINUED…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of two books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story”. She uses her experience and practical case studies for training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.