As most managers, you probably think of delegating as a way to pass off tasks when you don’t have time to do them. When you have the time, you will continue to do them yourself. This is not an uncommon behavior. After all, you are probably better at doing your job than people in your team who probably have less experience than you.
The problem with this style of delegation is that it sets your employees up for failure. A coach wouldn’t let an athlete go into a big game without practicing extensively beforehand. Managers should share this same mentality. When you assign someone a task for the first time — with no prior training — simply because you are unavailable to do it, their chances of succeeding are slim. You also run the risk of damaging team morale. Employees might get the impression that they are not capable of doing complex work if they are too overwhelmed by the task.
As a manager, a central part of your job is to train and develop people. This includes people who want to move into leadership roles, similar to yours, one day. When you take on the mindset of a trainer — instead of a manager delegating work — you will naturally look for ways to give a little more responsibility to the people who work for you. And those people who put in effort, and show an aptitude for the work, should be given more opportunities to try new, challenging tasks.
For more on this, read Prof. Art Markman’s various essays and books on decision making, smart thinking and motivation.
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