Understanding Delegation of duties and its benefits

During my initial days in the corporate world, I would often wonder how many top ranking business tycoons and C-Suite bosses found time to socialize, to attend seminars, to play golf and to network with ease. The key here was that they all delegate the work but keep pulse of what’s happening and how.

Let me give you an example of a successful individual:

I have a young friend Joseph (name changed obviously), whose company provides backend technical support for several global tech giants in software and development of apps. He has just graduated in computer applications but had started coding when he was in school. That kept him ahead of the curve as he also sold assembled computers by the time he started college. Typical nerd story, you say? Well, Joseph’s company has grown in leaps and bounds with his team spread across the world. I wondered how he manages such a disparate bunch of collaborators and why instead, he doesn’t hire skilled people locally? Joseph’s reply was that he never held the fancy notion that he must control all projects himself. Very early he realized that he must delegate work to those who do it best so that he can focus on increasing the business. That made sense to the business plan of this 22 year old. When a young boy realizes the power of delegation, he is well on his path to eliminating the stress of doing everything himself, something a lot of leaders follow and end up accomplishing little while feeling burnt out.

If you ask me, delegation has always been the shadow of leadership. It’s all about entrusting tasks to subordinates or colleagues in your workplace in a way that they are empowered to accomplish the task and are capable of doing it to the best of your expectations with complete accountability of the outcome. There’s always a limit to what one can achieve alone, while the sky is the limit when it comes to getting it done from someone who can do it as good as or better than the way you do it. I know it seems simple to say but very difficult to follow. Why? For the simple reason that the perfectionists that most leaders are, they find it difficult to allow someone else nurse their baby. That ends up in all babies being malnourished and underweight!

Pun apart, some of the common hurdles to delegating work are:

  1. The desire to retain all control
  2. The fear that others may not do things as good as you want
  3. The insecurity that if someone else does it as good as or better than you, then you would lose an edge
  4. The lack of monetary or other incentives to provide to someone to do it for you
  5. Lack of confidence in the ability of others to do a task
  6. Fear that someone else would commit a mistake and put all the earlier efforts down the drain
  7. Envy that someone else must not be seen to be able to do it apart from you

Doing everything alone is something we often read in stories about bootstrapped start ups where the founders double up as office boys and receptionists in the initial days. However, as things start to grow, one must realize that there’s a limit to doing it all alone.

As we grow in leadership roles, it becomes clear that we will need to accomplish more in less time which is only possible as a team. Choosing the right team could be easy, but delegating roles based on each one’s strengths is challenging. But that’s what leaders are supposed to do: find out and leverage on individual and team strengths. 

Importance of Delegation of Duties

  1. It allows you the luxury of time and energy to focus on the bigger picture.
  2. Time saved doing all the work can be put to use to enhance business or to acquire new skills
  3. Delegating work to your colleagues or teams empowers them and engages them like nothing else. Remember, a company grows only as much as every individual grows and not based on one man’s efforts.
  4. Engaged employees who derive satisfaction upon completing tasks successfully feel a sense of pride and loyalty towards the company
  5. Delegating tasks makes the person feel that he is trusted by you and he will put in all his efforts to do it to your satisfaction.
  6. It also puts to use the better skills of other people to do the task better than the way you would
  7. It allows you to take up multiple projects at a time which helps you not just earn more but also succeed faster than the competition

Do’s and Don’ts of Delegation

  1. Understand the strength and abilities of a person before entrusting the work to him or his team. Showing overconfidence in your team that is just not equipped to handle such tasks may backfire if they fail to deliver. Not only will the task fail, they will lose their confidence in the bargain.
  2. When you know someone cannot handle a particular task, see that such people are imparted training to do so. Training serves as an investment in talent.
  3. Micro management just doesn’t allow you to delegate and successfully at that. Provide the resources, guidance and support and move aside. Empowered people perform better
  4. Delegation of trivial tasks is not real delegation. Let the employees achieve success and see how they will strive to take the company to higher echelons. Merely dumping tasks to subordinates will undermine their potential and they would lose interest in the work soon.

The major barrier to delegation and that too in time, to the right people, is the ego of the leaders. Those who fear that others will supersede them in the long run need to introspect and look at strengthening their armor of skills first. Insecurity or not trusting the team enough will only lead to the company being stuck in a rut and leave you with the challenge of attrition and disenchanted under-performing employees.

Let more hands join and strengthen you and then see how much exponentially more you can achieve!

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