What’s the key to empowering your team to complete their work? That’s simple: delegating work. But it’s about more than just getting work done and sharing the load. It’s also about creating an environment where employees are proud of their work and take ownership, which are critical pieces to learning how to effectively delegate.
Unfortunately, some leaders struggle with delegating work. What holds them back from doing so? And what can companies do to teach their leaders the art of delegation?
It comes down to understanding what constitutes delegating. Delegating is allocating the right work to the right people. Knowing how to delegate work is about sharing a task and decision-making responsibilities to increase others’ commitment, accelerate results, and build capability.
The delegating leadership style, which is one of the four leadership styles covered in the situational leadership model, is about managers sharing authority and responsibility with their employees.
Seems easy enough, right? After all, leaders can’t do all the work themselves. That’s why they have teams.
Many leaders are reluctant to delegate, though, especially if they’re new to their roles. A host of things can hold leaders back from sharing their workload. Sometimes they are leading a team of former peers, and they feel uncomfortable telling their friends what to do. They also may be used to being the team workhorse. Many leaders are promoted to their roles because they are high performers. They are willing to take on any job and always help a team member. As a result, they feel like they are shirking their responsibility by passing the work to someone else. They also may not trust their team. High-performing leaders can sometimes be perfectionists who struggle to let go of operational-level tasks, so they can focus on the big-picture vision instead. Surprisingly, this is a common stumbling block at every leadership level.
This reluctance to delegate carries a steep cost. As leaders take on more work, they get overwhelmed and stressed. They may even burn out and quit. At the same time, their team is likely also frustrated. They don’t feel like they’re contributing enough, nor do they have the authority to do their work as they see fit. They’ll likely end up disengaged or start polishing their resumes.
How Leaders Can Empower Others With Delegation
Leaders who delegate work see beyond just completing a task. They are empowering others to grow, learn, and do their best work. There are some major positive outcomes in doing this:
• Team members are more creative and are 3.9 times more likely to produce innovative and creative outcomes.
• Team members take more initiative and are 4.2 times more likely to go above their job description.
• Team members perform better and are 2.2 times more likely to be considered high performers.
• The team has higher standards and is 1.9 times more likely to have high performance standards.
Employees often feel more satisfied when they have more authority, which means they’ll be less likely to leave. Most employees thrive in an environment where they have more freedom to grow. It can propel them to grow in their careers faster, which can also be highly satisfying.
For more information, including when leaders should delegate, what to consider before delegating work, and what leaders do wrong when delegating, visit DDI’s blog post.