Delegating is one of those concepts that seem to be pretty obvious and understandable. One might think it is also a no-miss step for a leader with a team under them. However, in many companies, it doesn’t work the way it should, or… it doesn’t work at all.
For delegating to work properly, it’s essential that the team members have a sense of ownership and responsibility. The thing is, it’s not that rare to hear managers complain that their employees are passive, reactive, and need to be steered constantly. The question is… are they really like that? Or were they trained to act that way?
When delegating doesn’t happen although it should
A team was preparing a pitch for a potential client at a marketing firm. They had spent weeks researching and putting together a detailed presentation, but on the day of the pitch, the client unexpectedly requested some additional information. The boss, who was leading the pitch, quickly took over and began making phone calls and gathering the necessary information. He also reviewed the presentation and made some last-minute changes to address the client’s requests. While the company secured the client, the team members weren’t even given the chance to learn how to handle out-of-the-ordinary situations themselves.
Another situation – an IT manager who received a request to create a custom software solution for their business. It was a big, important, and demanding client who also had a very specific set of requirements that needed to be met. The manager decided to take on the task themselves rather than delegating it to their team. As a result, the team missed out on an opportunity to grow and develop their skills.
Now, let’s be honest – delegating is not as easy as it may seem to be. You have to learn it. It’s not just about the very activity of distributing tasks. It’s also the emotional part that is especially challenging, with all the fears accompanying it; are they ready? Will they be able to handle it? What if something goes wrong? Am I doing the right thing? Moreover, there’s the aspect of letting go of control.
The good news is that, even though it might require time, determination, and effort, it is never too late to change it.
Make delegating work
If you’re one of those managers who are guilty of stepping in and completing the tasks instead of delegating them, ask yourself why you’re hesitant to delegate. Is it because you don’t trust your team? Do you feel like no one else can do the task as well as you? Or is it because you simply enjoy doing the task?
Once you’ve established that, you can answer these concerns and take the steps to begin delegating.
First, start with yourself. Think about the purpose of your position, its interconnections with the department, and its goals. How much time do you dedicate to coordinating actions and supporting team members versus completing project tasks? Give yourself an honest answer: do you act like a manager? Or, maybe, do you step into the position of a senior specialist too many times?
The next step is to identify the tasks that can be delegated. Start with small, low-risk tasks, and gradually increase the level of responsibility as your team members become more comfortable with their new roles.
Once that part is done, the next step is to establish which team members are ready to take on the tasks. Assess who can work independently, after specifying the expected outcomes, and who requires close supervision – not because they are lazy and need to be watched, but because they have little experience and need more guidance and support as they are still learning.
The more transparent the process, the better. Communicate clearly with your team members about what is expected of them and what their role is in completing the task. Provide them with clear instructions, timelines, and feedback throughout the process, but don’t forget to leave them space for some creativity and the freedom to complete the task in their own way.
Don’t just assign tasks yourself, engage your team members to do it with you. Delegate the planning process. This will help to increase the sense of ownership and responsibility within the team.
Why did we decide to write about delegating?
Because we’ve personally experienced the benefits it can bring to a team, many times.
We plan our projects together, using Team Planner – Resource Planning for Jira, and its simultaneous editing feature. With it, everyone can edit the plan, make changes, see what others do, and react accordingly. As everything happens “live”, it makes the process more dynamic and engages every team member. So, thanks to a tool like Team Planner, the planning process no longer rests solely on one person’s shoulders but is delegated to the entire team. We’ve noticed that it helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page from the very beginning of the project. Plus, it’s much easier to avoid overlooking important aspects that could be missed if it was just one person behind the whole planning process. The result? A more effective planning process, a more engaged team, and a plan that takes into account various perspectives and potential issues.
Delegating tasks to team members is crucial for effective leadership, but it can be challenging to let go of control. As a result, managers sometimes end up completing the tasks themselves, which hinders their team’s growth and development. Delegating can be made easier by breaking the process into steps. Managers should assess their own roles, identify tasks to delegate, choose the right team members, communicate transparently, and involve team members in project planning. Delegating tasks can increase a team’s sense of ownership and responsibility, resulting in a more engaged and effective team.