From the Ask Tom mailbag –
I have this ongoing discussion with my boss about whether I delegate enough to my team. There are some things that I just don’t feel comfortable delegating to other people. I have been let down too many times before.
Most management “skills” or management behaviors, we learned from our parents, a teacher or coach when we were young. That’s just the way it happens. As much as we might think that we read and learn better ways of doing things, we find ourselves migrating back to the days in our childhood. Whether or not we delegate has little to do with technique and everything to do with what we believe…about delegation.
Most people believe (because they were taught by their parents) that if they want something done right, you have to do it yourself. You have been let down by a team member in the past (which reinforces your belief). Here’s the real question: “Is your belief accurate, or is it just something that is holding you back?” What we believe is much more powerful than any skill we possess.
To explore this further, make a list of why you don’t delegate more often. Your list will include things like:
- I can’t trust my team to follow through.
- No one is trained to handle this delegation.
- I don’t have enough time to train someone to do this.
- I can do it myself in one-quarter of the time.
- My team is better at squirming out of responsibilities than I am at holding them accountable.
It is quite a formidable list. Whatever technique or model you use to organize your delegation, it has to deal with your beliefs. If you still believe this stuff, you will hesitate and ultimately continue to do things by yourself. You will lose the leverage of your team and ultimately underperform as a manager.