Delegation in Leadership

Despite the fact that you may be able to do it better yourself, do you actually grow all your own seeds, fruits and vegetables and raise your own beef, chicken, and pork? Then why should tasks at work be any different?

There are a number of occasions when one finds it hard to delegate, sitting on key seats or leadership positions. Sometimes it is because we have a long-standing relationship with the client / external stakeholder or are too attached to the brand or task. Sometimes it is because we don’t trust the delegatee enough to do a good job.

However, there are also some favorable conditions when the delegation from a leadership position can become easier – when there has been a pleasant past experience with the delegatee, when the confidence or faith in the delegatee is high, when one has higher clarity or understanding of the task, and so on.

The journey of delegation can be explained by a framework called THUNDER:

  • Talk: The first conversation of actually giving the delegatee the task.
  • Hustle: Regularly follow up on the health / progress of the task.
  • Understand: Find out if the delegatee has adequately followed the task and is on the same page as you.
  • Nip In the Bud: Cure any roadblocks that the delegatee might be facing along the way.
  • Damage Control: Split the work more appropriately / pick up a part of the task yourself to ensure timely delivery.
  • Establish Order: Be firm / do the-cold-water-on-the-head-thing whenever necessary.
  • Revert: With continuous and constructive feedback.

How can one learn to delegate well?

  • Awareness of Self:

Sharing Too Little: When you feel you’ve worked too closely and too hard on something, when you think you know the ins and outs of the brand, when you feel someone else can never do an equally good job, when you feel it would be too much effort to explain things from scratch and have someone bungle it up, when you feel the other person would take too much time – these are symptoms of poor delegation. Having self-awareness and being cognizant of when you’re delegating or sharing too little for whatever preconceived reasons, is the first step towards learning to delegate well.

Sharing Too Much:When you feel you don’t know enough about the subject of the task, when you feel you’d rather share than take the whole load and responsibility, when you feel if it goes wrong, at least it’ll be a joint effort, when you feel others are sitting and twiddling their thumbs and you’re pulling all the weight – you know there’s something wrong with your delegation. Being self-aware of when you’re sharing too much is another step towards learning to delegate well.

  • Awareness of Team:

There are multiple other variables which the person delegating must have a view of while making the call:

Aptitude: It is important that you know which member in your team is adept and skilled at what kind of task. Knowledge of your team helps immensely in delegating efficiently – as you want to give a task to a person not because you’re inept or bored of it, but because you know someone from your team would be good at it or enjoy working on it.

Bandwidth:It is also crucial to know who is stretched in your team and who has more bandwidth. Knowing this ensures that you’re not delegating something to someone who is already punching above his weight. And you’re instead being fair to everyone in the team.

Situation: This is a very important parameter to determine how high the stakes are – whether a task is worthy of being delegated and also how much of it is prudent to share in that situation. If time is of the essence, you ought to handle the crisis yourself or divide the task wisely among your most skilled team members to ensure timely and quality delivery.

Technology: Sometimes the technology or tools available at the disposal of the team can greatly impact productivity and pace. Delegate tasks keeping in mind all of these variables to manage your expectations and get the expected output.

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