Some are born to rule, while others are born to be ruled – goes one famous saying, which, social injustice notwithstanding, might carry a nugget of truth within. In plain English, you need to have what it takes, in order to become a good boss or manager. Part of that ever elusive set of skills involves knowing how, when, and to whom you need to delegate responsibility. If you master all other aspects of workplace leadership, but fail to understand delegating responsibility at work, you will soon find yourself burned out and with a major case of the job blues. So, how do you go about customizing your job efficiently, while also keeping everyone else around you happy with their jobs? It’s a delicate issue, which requires patience, insights about human nature, and a good overview of job processes – but it can be done. In the following, we explore some tips on delegating responsibility at work, via Penelope Trunk and other career experts.
· Match tasks with preferences
Some project coordinators or managers fail at delegating responsibility at work simply because they don’t understand how important it is to find someone who enjoys what they would have to do. In other words, if, as Trunk explains, you have trouble focusing while driving because you’re colonized by an idea for a new project, you should ideally have someone in your work environment who enjoys driving. Just as ideally, they should probably enjoy driving more than a desk job, or any other task you could assign to them. Once you have that kind of employee in your proximity, it’s far easier to let them do the driving, while you focus on the details of that new project, article, or whatever else is the task at hand. It will save you from the mental anguish of having to do too many things at once, and it will also pair up a skill with a specific set of project requirements.
· Delegating responsibility at work should be about passions
Here’s a conundrum: you need to get a specific part of a job done, but you have zero respect for that kind of work. Instead of doing it yourself, you’re thinking of assigning it to a member of your team. Pause for a second, right before you do that. Say the employee in question does get to it – what if they need instructions and feedback (and people are entitled to these things, you know…)? How are you going to approach such a situation? Are you in a position where you can remain unbiased enough about the task at hand, in order to help out? No, you’re not, if you have no respect for that kind of work. Passing on the responsibility of work you don’t respect to others means it’s likely you’re going to pass on that lack of respect to the person doing the work, too. So, instead, try a different approach. Delegate tasks that you wish you could do well. You don’t, but you’d love to learn how to get them done properly, so delegating responsibility at work in this way is going to turn into a great teachable moment for all those involved, yourself included.
· Always keep the bigger picture in sight
What’s your big goal: making sure that your company sells that many units of a given product by the end of the month? Obtaining ten new business leads by the end of the week? Making sure a given number of pages have been proofread by the end of the workday? No, none of those small, menial tasks qualify as a big, master plan – the kind of concept that makes up your business agenda, defines your leadership style, and fall within the scope of your workplace philosophy. But what if you tried a different approach to all those tasks? What if sales, leads, and proofreading were just a part of that bigger plan? By looking at tasks like this, you’re making it easier on yourself to delegate responsibilities. You’re no longer feeling like you’re running away from work you don’t consider that important. You don’t want to feel that way anyway, since you’re likely to transfer those feelings into the work process. Focus on the big goals and getting the small tasks done, in order to reach those goals, will feel like less of a chore and more of a master plan.