Reduce stress by delegating effectively..
Business organizations and teams exist for one reason only: to do jobs that are too large, too complex or too fast-changing for any one individual to do on his or her own.
So why do so many managers within these organizations still try to do everything themselves?
Assigning work to others is an integral part of getting things done efficiently, however many people feel uncomfortable with delegating.
Do you ever say things like these to yourself?
"I'll do the best job here, so I'll do it myself."
"He'll resent being asked, thinking I should do the work myself."
"It's a boring job, so I'll 'lead by example' and do it myself."
"It'll be quicker if I do the job myself."
These are all common reactions to thinking about delegation. However, when you don't delegate you risk ending up with too much work, not enough time, and lots of undue stress. The belief that you can do it better and faster with fewer mistakes leads to a vicious cycle of too little time and too much to do.
But on the other hand, when you delegate, you risk not having the job done properly.
So where do you instinctively find the balance? Do you choose not to delegate, and end up stressed-out and exhausted, or do you delegate, and risk errors and some frustration as a way of getting out of the not-enough-time-to do-anything-properly slump?
Take this short quiz to explore how well you currently delegate. Your answers will show you if you need to improve. If you do, we'll direct you to some great resources that will help you.
Use the online test below, and click the 'Calculate my total' button at the foot of the test.
For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.
|44-60||Excellent! You delegate under the right circumstances – and to the right people. You understand that delegating requires enough time and support from you so that everyone can be successful. You know that delegation is a key part of empowerment, and your team is stronger because of it. (Read below for more.)|
|28-43||You're making progress. You understand the principles of delegating. However, you like to occasionally cut corners and follow the easy path. Be more proactive in your delegation strategy, and remember how important it is to involve staff and provide them with enough time and support to succeed. The resources below can help you improve your delegation skills and your confidence.|
|12-27||Your delegation skills need work. You delegate as a last resort, rather than as a useful tool for improving your staff's skills and getting work done efficiently. Look at the resources below to develop a successful delegation plan.|
(Questions 2, 5, 9, 11)
When you consider delegating, start by deciding what you can delegate and when. Know when you should ask your staff to perform certain tasks and make decisions. Once you know which tasks are appropriate to delegate, it's much easier to decide to whom – and how – to delegate.
If you try to delegate work that's inappropriate or should be done by you, you'll probably fail – despite your best planning and support. You might want to ask your strongest team member to prepare a presentation for you, but if the words and thoughts aren't yours, chances are the speech won't connect with the audience. Likewise, if you need a report completed for your meeting in two hours, it may be inefficient to take half an hour to explain to someone else what needs to be done. In that case, doing it yourself will likely save you time and stress.
Consider these points when you decide whether delegating is appropriate:
For more information on what to delegate, see our article on Successful
(Questions 3, 7, 8, 12)
Delegating work to a person or team takes thought and consideration. If you delegate to the wrong person, you may spend too much time instructing and supporting the work. If you delegate too much to one person, you risk incomplete results, and an unhappy, over-stressed individual.
Think about these issues when deciding to whom you should delegate:
Have a look at our article on Task Allocation for more information on who best to delegate work to.
(Questions 1, 4, 6, 10)
A positive outcome can depend on how you actually hand over the task. You want to keep morale high and ensure that your team readily accepts assignments from you, that work is completed to expectations, and that you have more time for your own work. Effective delegation requires crystal clear communication so that people know precisely what is expected of them. It also requires letting go.
Here are some key things to consider:
Our Bite-Sized Training: Delegation lesson is a great place to practice your delegation skills and apply them to your work right now. It walk you through deciding what tasks you can delegate, to whom you should delegate, and how to go about it.
Once you get used to delegating and your confidence builds, you can use proactive delegation as an empowerment tool. Plan to delegate larger projects and more decisions.
Where appropriate, include your team in delegation decisions. Allow people to have a say in what tasks they want to take on. This increases their motivation, empowers them, and reinforces their value to the overall team.
As part of a training and development program you can encourage your team to discuss assignments and even negotiate the amount and type of work they want to do. For more ideas on this, see our Bite-Sized Scenario Training: Empowerment and Delegation session.
Delegation doesn't come naturally to most of us, and we can often think it's easier and safer to do everything ourselves. Unfortunately, this approach often leads to more stress and less time to work on our priorities.
Delegation is a time management strategy that you must practice. You can't do everything – so decide what you must do yourself and what you can delegate to others. When you learn to delegate effectively, you'll be rewarded with more time and a more empowered and satisfied staff. That's a win-win!
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