Updated: Jun 1, 2021
As we move up into progressively senior positions in our career, we move from being ‘doers’ to ‘delegators’. For many (myself included) this is a difficult switch to do. When you break into the industry as a sole-contributor and become accustomed to doing everything yourself it becomes a challenge to let that go and to put your faith in others to do as good of a job as you know you would do. But alas, as you climb the ladder, there is less and less time in the day to ‘do’ the work and you need to develop your delegation skills. Here are some tips to develop your delegation skills.
Develop Your Team
The key to delegation is being able to have someone you can delegate tasks to. Obviously, you need someone capable of stepping in and taking on the task and seeing it through to successful completion. So how do you do this? Develop the skillsets in your team – do some succession planning ‘what-if’ scenarios such as “if I get offered my boss’ job tomorrow, who would I pick as my replacement?”. And it doesn’t need to be just one person – in fact, better to develop multiple people so you have some depth at that skill level. Have these team members work alongside you as you perform some of these tasks so that they can learn and understand how to do it when the time comes that you need to delegate.
Work Yourself out of a Job
This is not literally meaning to put yourself out of a job. What I mean by this is to set your processes up so that they need as little manual intervention as possible. What I strive to emphasize when building out a team or organization which is rooted in processes is to make your tools do the easy work (reporting, dashboards, automation, etc.) and leave the hard work up to the smart people you hire to make decisions (including yourself). Nobody should have to do repeated manual calculations that software can do – we should be making time for those people to analyze the results and make decisions based on that data. Another area to ‘work yourself out of a job’ is to permanently assign tasks to other key team members so that the load is shared, knowledge is gained, and depth of experience is realized.
Delegation is one thing that I know I’ve found challenging to do effectively and only when buried with tasks that I know I should have delegated that I realized the importance of doing it along with how much of a challenge it can be at times. But by developing your team and your processes to help build your trust in others to do work that you normally would do yourself you will find that delegation to others becomes infinitely easier.