When I was merchandising manager at ACDelco, my team was responsible for liaising with the managers of our 36 different product lines — over a billion dollars worth of auto parts!
In one instance, one of my employees was managing support material that would go into thousands of stores.
Jill, my agency representative, produced one of the pieces (a poster) and showed it to me upon completion. I was surprised at what I saw, as it wasn’t at all what I had imagined. Jill saw my reaction and assured me it could be changed.
And that was surprise number two for me. I remember thinking “why would I change it?” No, it wasn’t what I would have done, but it was okay the way it was. I trusted my employee to do her job.
Risk and Reward
This particular situation was not complex, and it was not a high-risk decision. Yes, it was going to cost thousands of dollars, but it would work just as my employee had intended.
So, it was easy for me to “Let It Go.”
Trust and Delegation
Trust and delegation go hand in hand. This was not delegating in its purest form, but rather, trusting my employee to do her job and not imposing my own view. Leaders who trust their employees to do their jobs, and delegate when the time and situation is right, realize many benefits:
- Time savings
- Empowering employees
- Developing employees
- Tapping into the wisdom of the system for more ideas
- Diverse approaches
- Building trust
- Creating and harnessing energy
- Focus on priorities
- Productivity increases
- Making use of strengths
In more complex situations, letting go of some of our beliefs about delegation can be even more beneficial.
Let Go Of Beliefs
What might you need to Let Go of in order to delegate more? I’ve heard some of these from leaders I’ve worked with who have shifted gears:
- Let go of the time and energy it takes to manage the work that your employees can and should be doing.
- Let go of the idea that if it’s going be done right (whatever “right” is), you have to do it yourself.
- Let go of the habit of holding on to something, when others could be learning and growing by doing it (and maybe even doing it better).
- Let go of constraining talented employees from using their strengths.
- Let go of the fear that if you don’t do it, you might be viewed as a weak leader.
- Let go of the thought that teaching someone else to do the work will take more time than it’s worth. (It might take more time initially, but invest for the long run.)
Self Reflection To Act
The reality is that leaders are less productive if they’re trying to do it all. A few questions that can get you started today:
1. What specifically am I holding onto that can/should be done by someone else?
2. What is keeping me from delegating? (fear, my beliefs, skills gap, lack of process etc.,)
3. What would the benefits of delegating be, to me and/or others?
4. What is the first step I can take today to delegate?
5. When specifically (time/day) am I going to do this?
6. How do I measure success?
7. And, how can I do more of this?
I won’t break into song with Disney’s Let It Go theme, but permit me one line of encouragement: “Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore…”
The results that come from your choices to delegate will be worth singing about.
Please let me know how it goes, how it goes.