The gift of delegation? I'm hoping the title caused you to stop and pause a little. What is the gift of delegation? Doesn't delegation typically have a negative connotation? You know, the person at work that is 'Teflon'. No matter what happens good or bad nothing sticks to them. They can sidestep out of the way of blame or step into the limelight. In a meeting, they have all of the suggestions but have an uncanny ability to delegate the action items to others. Yes, some people indeed delegate for the wrong reasons. I'm talking about using delegation to develop the skills of others and intentionally building a sense of belonging, teamwork, and trust.
Delegation should be used as a gift to others. Stay with me as I explain what I’m talking about. Even before COVID-19 and the unemployment situation, most companies were operating in a lean environment. Have you heard the saying “Do more with less”? When organizations try to "do more [work] with less [people]" they are typically operating with a lean workforce. Many years ago, I was working in a lean work environment. At that time, I tended to try to complete all of the work myself. I felt that my staff was very busy and overworked so I shouldn’t give them additional work to do. But what happened was as time passed and my urgent customer issue didn’t get done, I’d have to give it to someone else to complete. I HAD to delegate it to one of my team members. However, NOW it was an emergency. I had let too much time pass thinking that I would handle it and when I realized I couldn’t take care of it; it became an emergency for someone else. I didn’t use the gift of delegation correctly. I had an excellent team and they re-prioritized their workload to accommodate my request. Sound familiar?
Eventually, I adopted a new approach. When work arrived in my in-box, I asked myself two questions, (1) Is this something that only I can complete or handle or (2) Should the task be delegated to someone else? I delegated to an employee who either had the skills to complete the task or the task would help the employee develop additional skills. I was intentional with delegation. Delegating early in the process allowed my employee to prioritize the task within their workload while learning a new skill.
Delegation is the act of giving a gift to someone else. I know this sounds like you're trying to get out of doing work but you're not. You keep the tasks that only you can do and delegate everything else to others to enhance their skills. An added benefit is it builds trust. Yes, they get additional work but they feel empowered that you are trusting them with tasks that they don't normally complete.
Think about how you use the art of delegation. Do you delegate when the task is at an emergency level creating others to re-prioritize their workload? If so, my challenge to you is to try this new approach of delegating early and often for one week. At the end of the week, measure your success. How was your stress level? What new skills did your employee learn? Was customer satisfaction impacted? What was the feedback from the employee?
Let me know how you did and the results. Do you agree with my approach? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience on delegation.