You waited too long to delegate if you’re going under for the third time. Delegation isn’t a life preserver for overworked leaders.
Desperation is a lousy context for delegation.
Practice proactive delegation:
#1. List your responsibilities and circle the top three where you believe it’s time to delegate authority.
#2. Get in the habit of making space for others to contribute to the delegation process. Start using ‘we’ more than ‘me’.
#3. Schedule one-on-ones with direct reports to get the ball rolling. Ask them to bring a list of their key areas of responsibility. Within their responsibilities …
- What areas could I delegate more to you, if any?
- Where could I ‘let go’ more?
- What areas could I provide more help?
- How could I get more involved?
#4. Seek feedback on your delegating practice from direct reports.
- When do you see me doing things others could do?
- When am I over-involved in other people’s work?
- What could I delegate this week?
(Items #3 and #4 are adapted from an article by Marshal Goldsmith on HBR)
Tip: Schedule a follow up conversation after items #3 and #4 to close the loop. Don’t promise anything. You’re exploring what could be, not what should or must be.
3 rules for successful delegation:
#1. Give high profile responsibilities to experienced team members.
High profile responsibilities aren’t development opportunities for unproven talent.
#2. Delegate to those with aspiration and openness. Don’t delegate to know-it-alls unless they already know how to do the work.
A track record of learning is essential for taking on new responsibilities.
#3. Schedule weekly follow-ups with inexperienced team members for the first month of long-term projects. Step back slowly and stay available.
Tip: Assign experienced team members to follow-up for you. In other words, give people a delegation-buddy that frees you and expands others.
What delegation practices have helped you?
What rules could you add to successful delegation practices?