Delegation 101

January 14, 2016
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I was promoted last quarter to Manager. This was exciting and daunting all at the same time as part of me felt I was ready, and part of me suffers from Imposter Syndrome. One thing that has become patently clear since my promotion is that I have a lot more on my plate from the perspective of planning, teaching, organizing and leading. This is in addition to all the actual “doing” of client work. I am lucky that I work with very smart and dedicated people who are as passionate about what we do as I am. We are very busy, and frequently have to call on each other to assist when new work or additional tasks occur. That leads me to my dilemma. I am a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad delegator. Not because I am smarter than everyone else is, and not because my team can’t do it (they are amazing…), but because I am bad at saying no and asking for help.

While this will be a continuing journey for me, I thought I would share some new things I’m learning about the benefits of delegation in hopes they may ring true for someone in a similar situation.

Firstly, delegating a task to someone else means I have more time to do other things. This is probably the most intuitive of my observations, (You’re all saying, “Thanks Captain Obvious!” right about now.) but if it was that easy, I’d have done it long ago. Delegation means a loss of immediate control over that piece of work. It could mean the work may be done by someone less experienced, or by someone who has a different method. Both of which could lead to different results. Right about there, my brain starts to shudder a bit and I think, “It won’t be done exactly the way I want it!” Immediately after this thought, I tell myself to get over myself, and realize, as the old saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat”**

This leads me to the second benefit of delegating, making my team better. When I delegate a task to a less experienced team member, I more than likely will need to spend time with them the first time this happens teaching them my methodology, and then QA’ing their deliverable. Upfront, this means more work for me, but at the end of the day, three miraculous things happens:

1) I am now better at this task because if I can teach it, I must really understand it;

2) Someone else on my team now knows how to do what I can do. Next time, delegation will be less work and time saved for me;

3) The person who now knows how to do what I can do may then figure out a way to do that task better. Now, I am a leader of innovators!

The third benefit gained by delegating is that as a result of delegating to someone else on my team, I may learn something new. A new set of eyes on a task can bring new methods, new ideas, and new, possibly better, results.

Lastly, the net benefit of having more time for other things, leading innovators with deep skillsets, and learning new ways of completing tasks from experienced colleagues is that I may end up becoming the confident, experienced leader and manager I know I can. Delegation feels like losing control, but at the end of the day, I have learned to trust myself more to lead by example, teach to inspire innovation, and let go a little to continue to learn.

** Creepy fact from my days as a Biology major: There is, in fact, only one good way to skin a cat.

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