Here are six ways delegation can go wrong:
1. Your expectations aren’t clear
A Post-it note with “Can you handle?” scribbled on it is unlikely to get the outcome you want. Provide the “what” and the “why” by being explicit with directions and providing context for the assignment. The extra few minutes you spend filling in the details now could save you hours of frustration later.
2. Your deadlines aren’t realistic
A sense of urgency can be a real asset when you’re running a business. Nevertheless, you have to be mindful of how you communicate it to your staffers. Too many texts and emails punctuated with “ASAP” and “top priority” are more likely to produce a shrug and a muttered, “As if,” than a stellar piece of work.
3. You fear losing control
The very reason you started a business — control over your product, your brand, your time, your life — can easily become a trap if you insist on managing every tiny detail. Resist the temptation to check in constantly. And, if the work you receive isn’t done exactly the way you would have done it, allow for the possibility that it might be — gasp— even better.
4. You’re wearing out your go-to employees
If you have a superstar staffer, it’s tempting to turn to her again and again because you know she’ll deliver. Know that when you do, you run the real risk of burning her out — and that colleagues could come to resent her for always getting challenging and exciting assignments.
5. You let employees delegate back to you
If you make an assignment and find your staffer returning frequently with numerous questions punctuated by heavy sighs, resist the urge to grab it back. Smile serenely and say, “What do you think?”
6. You don’t recognize good work
We tend to glamorize business leaders, but the truth is that every positive contribution is a win for every person in your organization. When someone does a great job, make sure they know it. Your confidence in them is contagious and they’ll be eager to do and learn even more.
You may not be a born delegator. If not, Gallup suggests cultivating awareness about where you fall short and partnering with others who are strong in that talent. You’ll have much more time to exercise your creative muscles if you don’t insist on doing all the heavy lifting yourself.
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