“If you have any perfectionist tendencies… you may be having a hard time with the D word. Delegation. And, by extension, maybe your staff is, too,” says Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Executive Director of Planning and Sustainability at Town of Chapel Hill, NC. She speaks from experience and explains that she realized that learning to delegate can mean the difference between success and failure, both individually and for the entire team.
Ambitious professionals are accustomed to putting all of their energy into projects. Yet there are only so many tasks that one person can complete in a work day. Nirdlinger states that oftentimes professionals complete work themselves is because it’s easier than explaining one’s expectations to someone who may not understand the project as well. She warns that while it may seem easier to handle it oneself, it may not be the best choice. “Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization,” she says.
Delegation can release any sense of stress or pressure that is often felt by perfectionists who try to do all the work. It also can allow for innovative new solutions when workers other perspectives are permitted to contribute.
Brian Tracy, an author, speaker, and success coach, feels that there is a right and a wrong way to delegate. One of the important pieces of the puzzle, according to Tracy, is the ability to give the right tasks to the right people. “Picking the wrong person for a key task is a major reason for failure,” he states. Matching the requirements of the job to the skills of the person ensure success, while delegating small tasks to newer staff members helps build confidence and competence, he points out.
Tracy adds that when delegating projects to workers, be clear on the expected outcomes. “Make them measurable,” he says. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” He also recommends that managers delegate an entire project to an equipped and responsible individual. He feels that this not only is a performance enhancer, it motivates employees to strive even more for success within the company. “You need to delegate in such a way that people walk away feeling, ‘This is my job; I own it,’” says Tracy.
As a manager, effective delegation ensures that you and your team are able to complete projects on schedule and with the best possible results. It increases the success of the business, and ultimately the manager and team members, who will be recognized for their work. Tracy states, “Your ability to delegate effectively, more than anything else, is going to determine your career track, your rate of promotion, your pay, your status, your position, your prestige and your success in management.”