The most successful business leaders all share a common trait: the ability to micromanage. As a leader, your ability to effectively micromanage is vital for a number of reasons.
The first is simply bandwidth. When you have a team, you don’t have to be superman. Delegation is critical in keeping yourself sane while managing tight deadlines and large workloads. The second is to ensure you maintain a strong, cohesive team dynamic.
But many leaders are still ineffective delegators, handing off work only when they absolutely have to, and then micromanage when they finally to delegate – in turn driving their teams to push for independence.
Mastering the art of delegation is among the most challenging leadership achievements, but it is rewarding – and can absolutely be done.
1. Learn to Let Go
As a leader, you need to learn to let go of your ego. For many people in a leadership role, delegation is a challenge because they’re too attached to finishing the job themselves, or they fear nobody else will be able to do the job as well as they can. To be an effective delegator, you need to learn to let go of all that.
But it’s a collaborative process of building trust with your team. Start off small, delegating only the smallest of tasks, until you’ve gotten to know and trust your team members’ ability to handle the deliverables you assign to them. The more you build this rapport with your team, the easier it will be to delegate going forward.
2. Develop a System for Delegation
As you get to know your team, it’s important to understand which tasks you can delegate to whom based on their abilities and to delegate accordingly. Often times, there’s a big discrepancy in the amount of skill needed for a task versus the amount of time needed, and they don’t necessarily always correlate. For instance, a high-skill task for you might not take a whole ton of effort, but it would for a junior member of the team. On the flip side of that coin, a low-skill task might require a boatload of effort – even for the most skilled member of the team – simply based on the amount of work involved.
That’s where the art of delegation comes into play. Allowing a more junior member of the team to take responsibility for a low-skill, high-effort task will save you a ton of time while providing them with a valuable learning experience, with the ultimate outcome being a more efficient and effective team.
3. Keep an Open Mind to Alternative Approaches
As a leader, it’s easy to get caught up in the mentality that your way is the only right way. But in order to master the art of delegation, it’s important to stay open to new approaches to achieving tasks. It’s imperative to understand that your team might have a different idea on how best to accomplish the task at hand and to consider that this approach might actually help them achieve a goal more effectively. But it’s also important that you encourage them to back up their approach with sound rationale. It’ll be a good exercise for both you and them.
4. Define the “What,” Delegate the “How” and Make the Right Resources Available
Being a micromanager is the surest way to ensure your delegating falls flat on its face. Your team members want to help, but they want the space to see a task through before showing you the final result. The best way for you to avoid micromanaging is to give them the responsibility of accomplishing a task and let them sort out the best way to do it. Give them a chance to prove they’re intelligent, talented, capable and committed – in turn serving to build the trust and improve the entire delegation cycle.
But it’s also important that you set them up for success by providing the right resources and making the right tools available – including yourself. Take the time to teach new skills as an investment for the future. The more you can teach a team member, the more they’ll be able to help you down the line. And make sure you’re available to provide insight and answer questions.
As a leader, your guidance and wisdom are among the most powerful tools in an organization.
5. Trust Your Team but Verify Their Work
When you hand off a task, trust your team member to achieve it. Your confidence in their ability to accomplish a task will go a long way in building the trust and inspiring them to deliver great work for you.
However, don’t be afraid to check in on a task’s progress to ensure it’s moving along. Checking in on status is your right and doesn’t constitute micromanaging. Not only will this help keep the momentum going, it’ll provide proactive opportunities for your team member to ask questions along the way. And when they finally submit the work, make sure you take the time to verify it for quality and to provide feedback for improvement on future projects.
6. Recognize Achievement
When you see a team member who’s done a great job, let your team know it. Reward them with praise, but also with additional opportunity and responsibility. Great leaders recognize great future leaders and offer them the chance to distinguish themselves.
Mastering the art of delegation is no easy task. It’s hard to relinquish control and trust others to achieve goals and provide high-quality output. But to be the best business leader you can be, it’s a vital skill to sharpen.