Published - January 2015

By Dave Jakielo

You Can't Do It All Yourself: An Essential Skill for Your Success

Over the past decades, due to overly burdensome government regulations, we have witnessed firsthand how an agency can turn a process that was once simple and straightforward into something that is now extremely complex. (It was easier to land the lunar rover on the moon than it is to get a physician enrolled in Medicare. The process was faster, too.) If you want to remain successful, it's imperative that you master one of the most essential skill sets required to be a great leader: delegation.

Delegation is giving a task to someone else to complete. But how many times have you assigned a task to a person, only to have them miss the deadline or leave the task completely undone? Well, guess what – when that happens, it isn't that person's fault – it's yours. Why? Because you are responsible for following up with them before they have a chance to fail.

Here's how it works. Say you give me a project at 8 a.m. and you inform me that it is due at noon the same day. You know it should take approximately two hours to complete. The time to check on my progress is not at 11:45 a.m. The proper time to check would be at 10 a.m. That way, if I haven't started or am confused about how to handle the assignment, you still have time to clarify the instructions and I'll be able to meet your deadline.

How do you know if you need to delegate more often? If you find yourself faced with any of the six situations listed here, you need to delegate more often:

  1. Doing work your team members could do
  2. Working overtime on a weekly basis
  3. Consistently taking work home at night
  4. Not giving important jobs the attention they deserve
  5. Not completing important jobs on time
  6. Trying to develop subordinates

Here are some of the common reasons why managers choose not to delegate:

  • I can do it better myself.
    • If you think this is true, try playing a video game against a 10-year-old. You'll quickly dismiss this premise.

  • They might make a mistake.
    • Sure, they may make a mistake. And if you think back to when you were learning, you'll recall that you made mistakes, too.

  • I might lose control.
    • Your span of control is limited, so save it for other tasks that may be confidential.

  • You feel threatened when you delegate work.
    • I've never understood why a person would feel threatened if someone could do something better than they can. You shouldn't feel threatened – you should feel proud of how well you have trained them.

There are team members who sometimes resist or push back when we try to delegate projects to them. However, there are reasons why this occasionally happens, and the most common reasons are that they don't receive any feedback about the work they have completed. It is very frustrating to put effort into a project that you complete accurately and on time and never hear from the person who delegated the project in the first place. Feedback is the breakfast, lunch, and dinner of champions.

Sometimes it can be because they don't have enough time in the day to dedicate to the task, so you may need to help them prioritize their workload. This is why I mentioned earlier that it is your responsibility to follow up with them before they have a chance to fail.

Finally, sometimes people do not complete a task accurately or timely because you have trained them that it's easier to rely on you. In other words, when they fail, you take the task back and do it yourself – thereby removing all incentive for them to ever handle something you delegate to them timely or accurately.

Hopefully, the above ideas and techniques will help you and your team complete tasks and projects successfully. Remember, you never have time to do everything, but you should always have time to do the most important things.

Dave Jakielo, CHBME, is an international speaker, consultant, executive coach, and author, and is president of Seminars & Consulting. Dave has been helping companies grow and improve their profitability for over four decades. Sign up for his FREE weekly Success Tips at Dave can be reached via email; phone 412-921-0976.

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