As a part of every good leader's toolbelt, there should be delegation. Delegation is the one tool that managers have to increase their output. The output of a manager is never their own work but the work of their team in total.
Why do you need to delegate
- You amplify the speed — When there are 5 possible people tackling the task instead of 1 it will get done faster. When delegating properly, the task is probably finished even faster than the manager could. As when delegating, you have a choice to give it to the person who has the most experience in a given context and can execute fast.
- You allow your reports to grow — Delegating task will give your team the opportunity to have more responsibility and be more in charge of things. Sure, at times things will fail and not get done, but it will also happen if the manager takes the task on themselves without any delegating. Don’t take away the opportunity to learn and grow from the team just because you are afraid of the unknown.
- You share more knowledge — The more people have to work on different things, the more the knowledge is shared. It is good to not have single point of failures in the team and always aim to keep multiple people in the loop with each topic.
How to know what to delegate
Understand what is your role and the tasks that only you can do. Everything outside of it will need to be delegated. And the reasoning is simple. If you don’t do things that only you can do, they will not get done, as no-one else can do them. If you don’t do sharable tasks, they can be picked up by someone else.
Delegating and forgetting is both dangerous and also sometimes necessary. Depending on your workload, it is sometimes not reasonable and possible to be in the loop with everything going on. To be able to fully delegate and forget, you need to build a team of senior and reliable people that are on a lot of topics smarter than you. If you are the smartest person in the team when it comes to the tasks your reports are tackling, then something is off balance. This can be OK only with a young team at the state when you are coaching the team. Everything after that, you should not be the top talent and you should know it.
With most of the tasks, you need to know the context, not the details. You need to orchestrate and not play an actual instrument.
If you feel you can delegate to only 1 person in a team, think why do you feel that. Aren’t you blocking growth for the others? Throwing people into the deep end will make them grow, and you can always say that they can come to you for help if needed so they have a safety net when they get stuck.
Think of delegating as allowing everyone to do their part to improve the speed of delivery of the team. Do not fear it, do not avoid it. There is a good saying — “If you feel comfortable delegating, you are not delegating enough”.