Get More Done By Letting Things Go
So you’re really, really good at selling, or analyzing, or writing. Chances are, you’re not spending most of your time in these activities. Your intentions are good, but those extra hours of work are consumed by tasks you could let go of — that is, delegate to someone else.
In my last role as a corporate leader, I used to spend many painful hours (as a 3 Fact Finder) pouring over mid-year reviews. One day I realized my Administrative Assistant could pull the data into the templates for me so I could focus on the bottom-line analysis, a task much more suited to my natural strengths. More recently as an entrepreneur, I became really proficient at building workshop binders instead of building my business! Sure, I was darn good with those binders, but I was much better (and more valuable) when I was out of the office selling and delivering our services.
Delegation is not about handing out assignments to someone else just because you’re the boss. Good delegation requires a two-part understanding that first asks, “What do I do best, and therefore, where should I spend my time?” and second, “What opportunities am I passing onto others that match what they are best at doing, so I can help develop their skills and strengths?” Effective delegation not only frees up your valuable time, but also, hands the responsibility over to someone else who will thank you for the opportunity and often do a better job than you would have with the task.
The “how” of effective delegation is another matter. There’s not a single management skill more critical to your personal and profession success as a leader—but learning to “let go” is one of the most difficult.
It begins with self-awareness, as well as knowledge of your team’s strengths—what tasks will maximize everyone’s value to the organization. Now identify appropriate people you trust, enlist them in your cause, give them the ball, and let them to run with it. You need to trust those you delegate to, i.e. allow them to learn from mistakes and don’t expect perfection. Delegate the whole task, but be clear on the “what, why, when, and who”. Communicate frequently to ensure understanding and report on progress. And always remember to recognize results.
In the end, you’ll be gaining respect as a leader who knows how to get things done through others, and be rewarded by a team with stronger skills. Better still, you’ll have more time to work on higher priority tasks—that is, work better, not more.
Know Yourself, Then Invest In Others
The best way to learn effective delegation is through improved self-awareness and mutual understanding. If you’re looking to truly understand the essence of what you love to do and do best, look no further than tools like the Kolbe Profile
, StrengthsFinder, and the Unique Ability process, as described in the book, Unique Ability: Creating the Life You Want.
The Unique Ability philosophy looks at what you’re best at and love to do the most, as a way to create true satisfaction and meaning in your work and personal life. You start by categorizing your activities under four headings: Unique Ability, Excellent, Competent, and Incompetent. The process uncovers what brings you passion and great results, so you can invest more time developing talents and skills in these areas. You also become more confident in what you should be delegating to others. By using the Unique Ability tool with team members, you’ll be able to better answer the question, “How do I use my time wisely?” and “How do I best invest in others?
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