I realize that there is plenty of value in delegating but I really wish I had never learned how to delegate.
Delegation came into my world as a manager. Suddenly, I felt overwhelmed by how much needed to get done and the accountability of all of it getting done correctly. The quick answer everyone seemed to have was delegate some of the work. Unfortunately, this didn’t come easy. I struggled with trusting others to do the work as the results were a reflection of me too. I finally learned when I had no other choice. I couldn’t do everything. So out of pure self-preservation, I delegated. However in retrospect, each delegation was controlled and purely self-interest driven. I delegated work only after:
- I couldn’t figure out a way to get it done myself
- Thoroughly training the individual
- Checkpoints/reviews planned for verification
- Trust established that the person was reliable and dependable
It was all about me. Not exactly a highlight admission but the truth.
Then came a desire to create a collaborative team ownership environment and suddenly my very effective time management tool of delegation was causing limitations. Empowerment is not asking people to do work that I’ve already solved and tell them how to do it. Empowerment is not expecting people to do it perfectly the first time. Empowerment is definitely not watching over an individual’s shoulder.
I was doing it all wrong. I was delegating with zero empowerment and pretending that it meant the same thing. In software development, cognitive skills need to constantly be challenged and grow. All of my rules for when to give someone a task needed to be thrown out. Instead, I’m now focused on:
- An opportunity for the individual to grow
- Provide appropriate level of training for support
- Checkpoints/reviews planned for support
- An opportunity to build trust that the person is reliable and dependable
Are you delegating with or without empowerment?