Some time ago, a manager approached me with the following dilemma regarding one of her employees:
“As an individual contributor, I’ve been used to doing work my way—and doing it all myself. Now, as a manager, I find that I still have the urge to do my employees work for them, because I don’t feel like it will be completed to my standards. However, I don’t have the time, yet I don’t trust that the work will get done in the manner I prefer. What is the right solution?”
This is a common dilemma many managers, especially first-time managers, face on a daily basis. They are used to doing the work that their direct reports are responsible for, but also are challenged to entrust their employees enough to deliver a finished product that meets their standards. Although delegation is the most obvious answer when you have too much to do, it can be hard for managers to give away the responsibility.
How can you effectively delegate work and gain trust that your employees will get the job done? The answer: Empower them with your knowledge and expertise to complete high-level tasks on their own and develop professionally.
Although this is the best answer, sometimes it isn’t practical—as most managers have days filled with meetings and other important obligations. Many managers say, “It will take me just as long to teach them to do the work as it will to do it myself.” If this is something that you struggle with, I’d like you to consider the following benefits of delegating work and empowering employees with the skills necessary to do the work themselves. You might find that these benefits outweigh the time lost by teaching your employees.
You Will Be Able to Make Better Management Decisions
It’s no question that more work and less time stresses us out, regardless of the position. In a recent TD blog post, “How Successful People Stay Calm,” Travis Bradberry references research studies from Yale that reveal how too much stress can have a negative impact on dealing with future stress. This means that when it is time for you to make a difficult management decision, your brain may not have the mental capacity to weigh all the factors appropriately—because you have used up your brain power with your work overload. Would you sacrifice an additional hour or two out of your work day if it meant you could make better decisions in the future?
You Will Increase the Value Your Employees Bring to the Organization
Every hire brings some level of value to the organization with their skills and strengths. But when you take the time to invest in developing your people, you increase the level of value they are able to bring to your team and the organization. In Multipliers, management expert Liz Wiseman’s references research that proves how leaders who are focused on “multiplying” their knowledge achieve better organizational results, become better leaders, and empower their employees to do great work.
The next time you are challenged with delegating work, consider these benefits and empower your employees with the tools they need to be successful. Move some meetings around, come in early, stay late, or have a working lunch. Whatever the case may be, invest the extra time in your people to be able to to invest in being a better leader.