Think of delegation as mentorship says Christy Crump, and empower another to grow and develop

To most administrative professionals, “delegation” is a nasty word.  We would prefer to have our fingernails pulled off with pliers, rather than transfer the responsibility and authority for carrying out a particular task! Transferring responsibility carries liability that most admins are not willing to take on for fear it will backfire and cause us to appear irresponsible, the very opposite of what we work so hard to achieve.

Let’s examine the benefits of delegating:

  • Increased involvement by our team
  • Increased responsibility and ownership
  • Suitability for future roles can be ascertained
  • Specialist knowledge can be readily employed
  • Increased team effectiveness

Delegation is vital to the current and future success of our team. By delegating, we are better able to assess which team members are skilled at handling certain duties. In turn, when team members build confidence, they more readily take initiative to do what needs to be done without waiting to be asked.

Let’s understand when we should delegate:

  • When we have too much to do and can’t keep up with our own work
  • When we need time to concentrate on higher priority tasks
  • When the tasks in question could be more readily performed by someone else
  • When it opens a development opportunity for your team

Delegation is vital not only to our team’s success, but to our success as well.  As our skills develop and improve, we are better able to take on more responsibility and higher-ranking roles. But, in order to do so, we must maximize our time by delegating other activities.

If delegation is vital to our success, why are we hesitant to do it?

  • Fear of losing control. It’s frustrating to watch someone try to do something when they don’t think or work like we do. Even if they produce the same outcome as we, it bothers us to watch them to do it their way.
  • Fear that if it’s done wrong, we’ll have to redo it. If we do it, we know it will be done right the first time. We’d rather avoid the risk and waste of time.
  • Fear that it takes too long to teach someone how to do something. In the time it takes us to teach it, we could do it ourselves.
  • Fear that others may do a better job. It’s hard to admit this one, but what if the delegee does it better, faster, and more effectively than we?

If we think of delegation as mentorship rather than delegation, it may be easier to overcome fear.  When we mentor, we empower another to grow and develop. In turn, our teammates become more confident and take on more, which lessens our burden.  We decrease dependency on ourselves, which frees time to develop new skills and advance to new levels.

Overcome your fear of delegating:

  • Fight against your fear rather than taking flight away from it. The more you do something, the better you get, and the less fear you have. Once you do it and kill the fear, doing it again is less painful. Eventually, it becomes second nature to teach someone how to do something, then delegate it to them.
  • Eat an elephant one bite at a time. Try delegating something small. As the delegee proves they can handle it, increase the activity a little at a time until you graduate to delegating something truly time consuming.
  • Communicate effectively. Clarify objectives and agree on responsibility. Make sure you and the delegee understand what is to be accomplished, how, and in what time frame.
  • Support and train. It may take several tweaks and lessons to teach someone how to do something completely and correctly. If you invest a few minutes on the front-end teaching and instructing, you save yourself twice the time overall.
  • Monitor and review. Ensure the delegee is doing the job satisfactorily. Give constructive feedback that aids in advancement.
  • Give the delegee freedom to use new ideas and employ different methods. Remember, not everyone does everything like you do. And that is okay.
  • Reward hard work, effort, and willingness to learn and grow. Eventually, you’ll find you have a supportive partner who makes your job easier and less stressful. You are then able to advance to the next stage of your career knowing that your former duties are handled.

Go forth and delegate!

Christy Crump has 20 years of experience in high-level administrative positions and five years as founder and president of Crump & Associates, a training and professional development company with a client list including Fortune 500 companies. In ... (Read More)

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