Many novice bosses want to do everything themselves. This is a big mistake! We advise you on how to skillfully delegate responsibilities in five steps and at the same time not to lose control over the entrusted tasks.
Most often it starts with the fact that someone stands out in the current position. The trader with the best sales, the journalist who writes the best articles or the marketer with the best results are finally noticed by the top and promoted to head of department or department. A bit like in the biblical parable: “You were faithful in little things, I will put you over great.”
But this rule doesn’t always work. Because a promotion to a managerial position requires a Copernican revolution in the mind of the promoted person. – Now that you have taken up the position, you are expected to be responsible not only for your efforts. You will also be held accountable for the work of your team – notes Bob Selden, business coach, advisor to the world’s largest public companies, author of the book “How to be a good boss”.
What is the main difficulty? The freshly baked boss realizes that he was promoted because he knew his job so far and has done it well. So in the new position he has to keep doing it, because everyone in the team is worse than him. Yes, he has now had managerial responsibilities, but he will not give up what he has proven himself in and what led him to success.
This kind of thinking is a big mistake. A manager must focus on new matters: organizing the work of others, setting goals for them, creating a vision, motivating. Operational responsibilities should either disappear or be marginalized. However, the temptation to do what you have done so far, only better, is extremely strong.
The history of the Ford Motor Company, which controlled half the automotive industry at the beginning of the 20th century, proves how disastrous this attitude can be. In the 1940s, its position began to decline sharply, there was a time when the company lost over $ 1 million. daily. It turned out that one of the reasons was a management error. The brilliant founder Henry Ford was unable to share power with his subordinates. He tried to make all decisions on his own, he was distrustful of all kinds of advisers. In his hands, he concentrated not only issuing all possible commands, but also knowledge – only he had access to the most important databases of the company. His dream was for employees who do not think, do not take responsibility or are not creative, but obediently and without reflection follow orders. – I need a pair of hands to work, and I still get a whole human attached to them – he complained more than once. He gave orders directly to each of his employees, even to a regular, unskilled worker. Fortunately for the company, the grandson of the founder, Henry Ford II, took over. He saved the factory by hiring senior and middle managers and decentralizing the decision-making process.
First lesson. Don’t take the night away!
Business psychologists say that manager’s tasks can be divided into three types. First, leadership. It’s about creating a vision, setting the path that the team should follow, as well as inspiring subordinate employees. The second role is management, i.e. the division of tasks, ensuring that everyone performs them properly and employee evaluation. Finally, the third key for our considerations is the so-called own tasks, i.e. matters that we do personally, without contact with the crew. So developing plans, budgets, writing reports, negotiating contracts, recruiting for work, deciding on rewards and penalties. Often, especially in smaller entrepreneurs, it is also performing tasks similar to those performed by team members. For example, the head of the sales department may reserve the service of a key customer, and the head of the political department in the editorial office – writing some important texts. – The boss of a very large team usually does little of this type of work, while a foreman or manager with one subordinate has to spend much more time with them – notes business coach Bob Selden.
Each novice boss has a tendency to increase the number of their own tasks. First, he thinks no one else can do them better for him. Secondly, he feels that the large amount of responsibilities he will take on will win him recognition in the eyes of his superiors. In connection with this approach, he blows up nights, stays after hours, takes home work, carefully instructs his people and makes sure that they do not make any mistakes, God forbid. He is convinced that in this way he will prove to others that he is irreplaceable. It may even have some results in the short term. However, this is actually a big mistake. The day is only 24 hours long, so our ability to concentrate has its limits. Therefore, a good manager reduces own tasks and focuses on management and leadership.
You don’t have to work hard to be successful. Charles Darwin spent up to four hours a day working in the strict sense of the word. Thomas Jefferson was famous for spending very little time at his desk and thinking a lot in nature. It is no coincidence that the business genius and the richest man of all time, John D. Rockefeller, said: – Who spends all day at work, has no time to earn money.
This is confirmed by research – it turns out that most of us can work effectively only three or four hours a day. Second lesson. Check if you are a visionary We have already established ourselves, every boss should be a visionary, a leader who inspires the team and shows it the way. This is his primary job. To what extent? There is no one answer here. However, it is worth saying to yourself: I check and investigate to what extent we are leaders. Management specialists advise you to do it professionally.
Analyze the working day and estimate how much time we spend on different types of tasks. It is possible for a certain period (e.g. a week) to record your activities in a three-fold table with the headings: leadership, management and own tasks.
How long did each task take us? The result is best expressed as a percentage. The next step is to assess whether the proportions are right.
Here, unfortunately, we must be a judge in our own case. There are no clear rules for how much time we should be a visionary and how much time we should deal with the technical side of our work. Much depends on the position, industry and company we work in.
The general rule, however, is obvious. “It’s always a good idea to try to put more emphasis on leadership, stay focused on management and reduce the amount of time spent on practical activities,” says Bob Selden.
The higher the managerial level and the larger the team we lead, the less there should be own tasks and more leadership. Basically, we should try to increase the time devoted to the tasks in the first part of the table and reduce those from the third.Third lesson. Delegate, don’t outsource . Now that we know what responsibilities we should give up, we should learn what true delegation is. It is not about assigning specific tasks, but about sharing some responsibility, and even – horror! – power. Your employee needs to know that he or she will be making part of the decision from now on and that you expect creativity from him. We have to trust him. Avoid detailed instructions. Let go of the reins.
At this stage, our role is to present a clear goal of the task. The subordinate must know that what he is doing makes sense and be aware of what you are aiming for together. For this, it is worth speaking very specifically and understandably.Fourth lesson. Check if you have been understood.After handing over the task to the employee, it is worth making sure that we have been properly understood. Often – especially when it comes to new tasks – our instructions are not as clear as we think. Ideally, ask the employee to repeat in his own words what you expect from him. This way you will avoid a last-minute situation in which you will have to save the project and take on some of the responsibilities yourself. You too will be calmer and maybe thus avoid over-controlling the team.
For your comfort, it is worth, especially at the beginning, to use the trick of artificially accelerating the deadline. If something is to be finished in a month, choose a shorter execution time, e.g. three weeks. In this way, you will gain comfort that, if necessary, you will be able to correct any imperfections. But remember: stumbling blocks are inevitable at first. People learn much more from their mistakes than from their successes.
Lesson five. Control and support.
Remember that by delegating duties, you do not relinquish general responsibility for their performance. Therefore, an important task is to monitor the progress of the team’s work as transparently as possible. Ideally, its members should know when and to what extent they should report to you on the completion of each stage of the project. Try to stick to the set rules. Be understanding and consistent. It is important that the employee knows that he can count on you in case of trouble. Finally, give him exact feedback on the task he has completed and celebrate his success.
After all, he not only accomplished the assigned task, but also did something much more important. Thanks to the fact that he took over some of the secondary tasks, you had more time and you could take care of leadership and management, i.e. what is most important for the company’s development!