Friday, May 14, 2021

Becoming a Better Delegator

Many leaders struggle with a tendency to micromanage at times.  I just read a good short piece at Fast Company by executive coach Melody Wilding about becoming a better delegator.  She offers three pieces of advice.  I've added a fourth key point.  

1.  Assess the cost of your perfectionism. 

What negative impact is it having on others?  Are they losing opportunities to develop and grow?  Are they becoming more disengaged at work because of your micromanagement?  Losing talented people can be a huge cost of your perfectionism.  However, you also have to consider the personal cost.  Will you experience burnout because of your tendency to micromanage?  Be honest with yourself.  Are you experiencing a loss in productivity because you are overburdened?  

2.  Strive for small wins. 

If you are hesitant to delegate, start with some low-stakes tasks.  Get those off your plate.  For this evaluation, I suggest the use of the Eisenhower matrix.   Consider those activities that do urgently need to be done, but are not that important.  Start by delegating those tasks.  Once you realize that others can handle that work, you will grow more confident in delegating more critical work to them.  

3.  Focus on the what and the why, but delegate the how.  

You need to establish the goals and explain why they are important.  Explain what needs to be done.   Describe why that is necessary.  Paint a picture of what success will look like.  Then let others determine how best to accomplish those objectives.  

4.  Establish checkpoints up front. 

Make sure you establish some opportunities to check in with the people doing the work.   However, don't look over their shoulder at every turn.  Instead, think through a few key milestones or checkpoints.  Establish those beforehand and communiate them clearly, and then meet with your team members at that point to check on progress.   When you do meet, don't just tell them what to change and why.  Ask good questions.  Encourage them to evaluate their own progress and let them propose the corrective action before you put forth an opinion.   

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