Delegating is an art. There is a huge difference between delegating responsibility versus tasks. There are also vast differences between delegating to one individual versus another. To delegate responsibility can initially take more effort than doing something yourself but in the long run, it is worth it. When you delegate responsibility, you are ultimately teaching others what you know and adding to their skill base. Initially, it might require a fair amount of time and follow up but in the long run, you will have transferred a skill or knowledge to someone else which will make them a more valuable resource to the organization. In addition, it also gives you more time to think more strategically and take on bigger challenges.
With respect to individuals, some people take the ball and run with it while others need constant direction in order to accomplish even the simplest tasks. It is this former group that is likely to learn and grow with an organization while the latter will likely remain in a similar position doing routine tasks for an extended period of time. In some instances, there is a place for them, in others, their lack of growth makes them less relevant to the organization over time and they end up out of a job.
Generally, my goal is to delegate responsibility to the greatest extent possible so that I can move onto other items (hopefully more important tasks that add more value to the organization). Delegating is a tool to allow me to become more effective. I never want to do the same thing more than a couple of times which is what it takes to understand the process, improve it, and transfer the knowledge to someone else. To the extent this is practiced across the organization (accompanied by automating tasks – effectively delegating to a machine) this allows an organization to move forward. Certainly there is a role for adding people as an organization grows and at times it is appropriate to “throw more bodies” at the task in order to get the job done; however, this is a short term solution and a distant second to improving processes and automating.
In order for delegation to work effectively, however, there must be two parties. Someone to throw the ball, if you will, and someone to catch it. If you don’t have someone on the receiving end who is willing to accept responsibility and grow in their role, then the process will likely be frustrating and the results will not be worth the effort. In addition, you need a party who is willing to “let go” and transfer some of their responsibility to other individuals. Some people look for opportunities to do this so that they can accept new challenges. Others seem to hoard their current responsibilities. Sometimes this is because they fear a loss of control, loss of perceived power, or believe no one can perform as well as they can. Whatever the reason, they eventually become a barrier to both their own success and the success of the organization.
Think about how effectively you delegate and whether you are maximizing the potential of yourself and those around you. Ultimately, the success of the organization is at stake.
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