Best-selling business author Harvey Mackay wrote an excellent piece in his “Swim with the Sharks” column in July 13-19 issue of the Philadelphia Business Journal about delegation
Entitled, “When You Delegate, You Elevate,” it’s a commonsense look at (a) why it makes solid business sense to delegate, and (b) how to do it.
Of course it makes logical sense … companies can’t function at all if leaders are doing all the work and not leading.
And the essence of successful delegation isn’t that hard to comprehend. In fact, Mackay’s tips — not expecting perfection, providing complete instructions, stop believing you’re the only one who can do it, focus on teaching skills, and checking on progress and thanking those who accept responsibility — are neither novel nor ingenious.
So why don’t more people delegate?
Because they’re scared.
And being scared isn’t reduced by a rational understanding of the “why” and the “how” of delegating.
It’s reduced by emotionally coming to grips with what you’re afraid will go wrong.
How do you do that?
Take out a sheet of paper.
At the top, write down the name of a process, task or deliverable that you think should be something you can delegate to a direct report.
Under that, create four columns. Here’s what to write in each:
Column 1: Write all the things you are afraid will go wrong if you delegate it.
Column 2: Write down your estimate of how likely that thing is to happen. For example, if you’re concerned the person will miss a deadline, in Column 2 write your estimate of that occurring (80%).
Column 3: What level of concern is ACCEPTABLE to you. For example, if you’re 80% certain they’ll miss a deadline, but 40% would be an acceptable, write that in.
Column 4: What would have to HAPPEN for you to be at that acceptable level of certainty? This is more complicated than the other three. Here, you write out what the circumstances would have to be to reduce your concern to whatever the acceptable level is. In the example I’ve given, you might say, “The person would have to check in with me daily to let me know how far along the project was in terms of stated deadlines.”
If the situation you described in Column 4 is easily done, you’ve now rationally identified the solution to your fear.
Do this for ALL of the fears, and if you are able to get even three out of five fears into a manageable level of concern, then you’re ready to work Mackay’s solution.
So, what are you waiting for?