Can I let you in on a little secret? Superheroes aren’t real.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but humans can’t read minds, stop bullets or bend time. They can’t fight aliens, mythical creatures or robots with attitudes. They make for great movies, but they don’t really exist.
Can I let you in on another secret? Superheroes don’t exist in the business world either.
Nobody can make copies, craft vision, set strategies, attend every meeting, lead every team, make budgets and build presentations. Not even you. At best, you’d be a workaholic, but you’d die from exhaustion. At worst, you’d be a control freak who doesn’t trust anybody else to do their job—and that makes for a toxic environment.
The solution is simple, but it isn’t easy. If you want to succeed in your career, you need to delegate.
I get it. Delegating is scary. Especially if you’ve been doing everything yourself or you’ve tried to delegate before but got burned. However, if you want to reach the next level in your career, assigning work to other people is crucial. Here are some tips to help you become a boss at delegation.
Assign it wisely
Ask yourself: Who has the best skills for this project? That’s who you want to take on the task. Play to others’ strengths and they’ll thrive. However, don’t overwhelm one person. Consider everyone’s workload. Also remember that some projects require a group of people. Giving a huge assignment to one person and expecting stellar performance is unreasonable.
Make it clear
Even if the job seems simple to you, explain precisely what you want done. For example, asking someone to “Research some options” is vague. Instead, say something like, “Please provide three alternative vendors with their pricing and speed of delivery by next Monday.” That statement explains exactly what you want done and when you want it.
Give it priority
If you’re giving multiple tasks to one person, make sure you’re clear on what you want done first. How to tackle a to-do list is a personal preference, so if you don’t tell others which task has the greatest urgency, you may not get the results when you want them.
Allow enough time
Your team members may not be able to function at the level of intensity or the pace you can. Some people panic with a short deadline. Give people a timeline that’s doable for them—not you.
Teach them how
I know you’re thinking, By the time I show them how, I could have done it myself. Yes, that’s true—this time. But what about the next time? If you teach people new skills, your team is better equipped and you’ve enlarged the pool of folks who can take on new tasks.
Let it go
Micromanaging consistently tops the list of “Things employees don’t like about their employers.” Explain what you want done, equip the person with the necessary tools, give them a deadline, and as the song goes, “Let it go.” Give others ownership and empower them to run with it.
Check back in
You need to let it go, but you still need to check back in. This accomplishes three things. First, the check-in allows the other person to ask questions. Second, you know the project is moving along on schedule (so you can breathe easier). Third, checking in holds others accountable.
Depending on the size of the project, do check-ins along the way. With smaller projects, once or twice is fine. If you wear the carpet down between their desk and yours, you’re micromanaging.
Give them praise
And credit. Not recognizing achievements and taking credit for others’ ideas will send your team members through the roof … and possibly out the door to find a better place to work. Live by the trusty adage, “Give credit where credit is due” and you’ll have more loyal employees.
Give them feedback
If you don’t give feedback, others won’t know how to improve. Even if they don’t express it, people want to know how to perform better at their jobs. This is especially true of millennials. In fact, in a recent survey, 60 percent of them preferred feedback once a month—not just at annual reviews.
If you watch those superhero cartoons, you’ll notice a subtle but important fact: Superheroes don’t stop every crime in action. They handle the tough stuff—like aliens landing on the planet—and trust the police to take care of the rest.
The same applies to you and your work. Your job is to tackle the hard stuff and trust others to do what remains. When you empower people, equip them and release them to excel, you’ll discover that together, you can leap huge projects with a single bound.