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Some managers avoid delegating tasks and responsibility because they have become believers in any number of common delegation myths. The following myths are just that—myths—and you shouldn’t let them get in the way of your delegation efforts.
Myth 1: You Can't Trust Your Employees to Be Responsible
What? You don’t trust your employees? If that’s the reason you’re not delegating, then you’ve got a real problem on your hands. The problem is that you’ve either hired the wrong people, or you’re a perfectionist who will never be satisfied with anything your employees do.
In the first instance, is there any hope of either training the employees you’ve got and increasing their skills to a level sufficient to allow you to trust them? Or should you fire or reassign them and bring employees who can perform at a high enough level? That is a question that only you can answer, but it’s one that you will need to address immediately.
In the second instance, while perfectionism can help your organization deliver better products and services, it can make things awfully tough for the employees who can’t seem to avoid making the occasional mistake. If you are being too hard on your employees, then you need to start with yourself and either try to loosen up and learn that your employees are going to do the best job possible, or find someone else to run your area.
The Management Bible
Myth 2: When You Delegate, You Lose Control of a Task and Its Outcome
Yes, it’s true. When you delegate, you do lose control of how a task is done. That’s the nature of delegation. You assign a task and you trust that person to get it done. But what you don’t lose when you delegate is the outcome. You can agree with an employee, for example, to come up with a new system for tracking maintenance orders—that’s the outcome. But how the employee comes up with the system—and how the system will ultimate work—is up to the employee to decide.
There are many different ways to get a task done—this is true both for tasks that are spelled out in highly defined steps and for tasks that are much less rigid. Instead of worrying about how your employees are going to accomplish the tasks you delegate to them, instead worry about whether the agreed outcomes are being achieved.
Myth 3: You're the Only One Who Has All the Answers
The moment your company employs more than one person, there’s no way that one person—even you—can have all the answers. Your em-ployees—working on the front line, talking to your customers, your suppliers, and one another—deal with an amazing array of situations every day. Many of these employees may have been working for the company far longer than you, and many of them will probably be there long after you’re gone. They have answers too.
Myth 4: You Can Do the Work Faster by Yourself
Sure, you might very well be able to complete some specific task faster and more accurately than an employee. But if you’ll just take a moment when you delegate the task, and give your employee some direction and training, it won’t be long before she is able to do it as well as you. And, not only will you have more time to devote to your other duties,
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
but your employees will have a golden opportunity to develop their work skills.
Myth 5: Delegation Dilutes Your Authority
Actually, delegation extends your authority by pushing it out over a much wider group of people. When you’ve got a team of employees working toward your common goals, your authority is extended—not diminished. The more authority you give to employees, the more authority your entire work unit will have and the better able your employees will be to do the jobs you hired them to do.
Myth 6: The Company Recognizes Your Employees for Doing a Good Job and Not You
Are you afraid that your employees might steal the spotlight away from your accomplishments if you delegate some of your duties and authority to them? If so, letting go of this belief may be one of the biggest difficulties for you to overcome in delegating tasks to your employees. Smart managers know that when their employees look good, they look good, too. The more you delegate, the more opportunities you give your employees to look good (and the more opportunities you give yourself to look good). When your employees do well, give your employees credit for their successes publicly and often, and others (including your boss, and your boss’s boss) will notice—scoring you major points as a result, which wouldn’t be such a bad thing, would it?
Myth 7: Delegation Decreases Your Flexibility
Again, the more people you delegate tasks to, the more flexibility you actually will have—not less. You can decide who to assign tasks to, who is best suited to take on certain tasks, and what tasks get priority. If something has to be done quickly, you can throw an entire team at it. There’s only one of you, and if you get tied up juggling a bunch of