I was recently reading an interview with a president of a Global Health Program who spoke about the difficult transition from worker bee to manager. He thought that one of the biggest challenges facing that person is the issue of delegation. He asked the question, “How can you have the team do what you would do yourself without you doing it?” He then remarked, “I don’t micromanage.” Although this president always knows what’s going on, he doesn’t tell people what to do. He also doesn’t get caught up in the details.
I thought this was a profound comment. It is very challenging for new team leaders and supervisors or managers to let go of what they are so technically proficient. After all, isn’t that why they were promoted to begin with? It is so tempting to tackle the tasks at hand themselves because it would take no time at all to do them. But that is neither good for the leader or the team. Why not?
When people are asked what they like most about their jobs they often share that they enjoy working with their boss as well as the kind of work they perform. For team members, it is important to grow in their daily responsibilities. One way to do that is for their team leaders to delegate to them new tasks that involve skill development. And for the leaders, it is critical to take some of the technical aspects of their job off their plates so they can pursue more conceptual responsibilities and time to dream. It is a win-win solution for both manager and team member.
So the next time you fear that delegating a responsibility to your team takes too much time, think about the real role of a leader and the importance of developing others. Ask yourself if you are micromanaging too much. It is important for individuals to accomplish the task in their own way. In fact, they may even find a more innovative and efficient way to achieve the goal!