Eli Broad is quoted as saying “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” I see that as well.
There are two major reasons why managers avoid delegation: they don’t want to lose control and they believe no one can do the task as well as they can. Do you relate to either of these?
I recently had a phone conversation with a client who had both of these issues. He runs a printing and mailing operation that is in a lot of chaos. We were discussing how he delegates to his employees and he shared this recent example.
“The two people in the production area decided to organize the inventory. We needed this to be done, he said, but they weren’t doing it the way I thought they should. I was on them every day to do it better; to do it my way, not their way. They were slow; they didn’t have a process to follow, and in fact, it seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing.”
I asked him how they reacted to his input and he said it built resistance in them. I shared with him the steps to delegate properly,
1) have an agreed upon deadline,
2) have an agreed upon reporting system on progress, and
3) have agreed upon results.
When I asked if he had used this process – well, you know the answer, right? No, he didn’t, which left his employees feeling micromanaged and belittled.
I suggested he put aside his belief that no one could do it as well as he could and release his fear of lack of control and build in the 3 delegation procedures.
A few weeks later, when I asked him how things were going, he said, “Much, much better.” Progress was being made, the shelves were getting organized and his inventory tracking system was working much better. Perhaps it was only going to be 80% of the way he wanted it to be, but it worked and adjustments could be made as the process was refined over time. His stress was much reduced and he learned a valuable lesson about delegation.
I’m pleased it worked for him because effective delegation leads to more satisfying work relationships, where people feel valued and respected and it enables the business owner or manager to focus on what they do best in order to maximize their impact.
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