In my years of coaching and observing managers, one of the main obstacles I see the majority of them face is delegation of their work.
If I was to nominate one characteristic that would make the biggest difference to their chances of success (or stress) it would be the degree to which they are able to enlist the cooperation of others to get things done.
For most, the inability to delegate comes from one or both of these two main core beliefs:
1. Nobody else can do it as well as I can.
2. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Here are some signs that delegation is not working:
- Customer calls are not returned because of reliance on one person to know what’s going on;
- Employees feel uncertain about what to do and keep escalating issues;
- Important tasks get missed or forgotten because the team’s relying on the manager to make it happen.
The lack of delegation poses the biggest threat to a business in times of stress so pre-emptive action should be taken to avoid it getting to that point. You can start by taking a closer look at those beliefs above:
1. Nobody else can do it as well as I can
Is that really true? If it is, I recommend you review your hiring and training practices. More than likely, you do have staff who can do the job – so give them the opportunity to show you how well they can do it.
Until the work you do can be done by robots, accept that all humans are fallible (even you). In most businesses, mistakes aren’t life-threatening and the sooner you learn to live with them the better!
Other people might do things differently from how you’d do them. Isn’t that exactly what a business needs in order to adapt, grow and thrive?
2. Asking for help is a sign of weakness
If this was really true, there would be no need for service industries to exist. We’d all do what needed doing for ourselves, from installing antennas to running our own court cases.
Clearly that’s ridiculous, so why be so selective in getting things done that need to be done? It doesn’t have to all be up to you!
Of course, you can choose to struggle along doing work to which you’re not really suited but how much better for you, your staff and the ‘Gross National Happiness’ if you’re mostly doing what you love and your team are given opportunities to excel at tasks they enjoy?
If I’ve achieved one thing with this article, I hope it’s that the next time you think “It’ll be quicker/easier if I just do it myself” you take time to challenge your beliefs and think about delegating instead. Will you?