Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC
Delegation by definition is the act or process of delegating or being delegated. It is transferring of responsibility between the manager and his/her subordinate. This does not mean that the manager is completely freed of the responsibility or no longer accountable, but rather the subordinate is empowered to carry out the task on the manager’s behalf.
Early on in my career, I thrived on being a single performer. The reason I like to work as a single performer is because by and large you control your own destiny. As a programmer, as long as you understand the programming language and its limitations, follow the design methodology, understand the business requirements, work closely with your business and manage your time, you can control the outcome. In many respects, you get what you put in. It is an old saying my father told me many times: You’ll only achieve something if you put in the effort needed to accomplish the goal. It sounds simple, but indeed, it is simple. The results speak for themselves as I moved up the ranks and gained confidence along the way.
It is quicker for me to do it myself
While is it true that it is quicker if you do the work yourself, depending on your role in your organization, it might help you achieve your goal in the short term, but in the long term you’re not helping your organization achieve its goal.
The need to get it done quickly and getting it out of the way can also give you a false sense of accomplishment. The mere fact that the task was completed gives you the feeling that you can check it off your list.
So, why delegate?
- Free up your time – this is ultimately the best reason why you need to delegate. Delegating frees up your time to work on things that have the highest value to the organization. It also means that you can work on strategic thinking to help expand your company’s capabilities.
- Growing talent – this is essential to every organization. The overall capabilities of the organization will increase in equal proportion to the more people we develop. By delegating our responsibilities, people will learn new skills that will help them become valuable resources of the company.
- Increase morale – delegation is only effective if we empower the people to carry out the task. Empowering people can improve their morale. The improvement in morale equates to better engagement and improvement in retention.
- Sharing your expertise – showing people how to do things and explaining the purpose or what it means to the organization helps people understand how their work fits in the overall scheme of things. By showing people how do things, they will respect and appreciate your gesture.
- You still own the responsibility – while you’re helping someone accomplish the task, you still own the responsibility and are accountable for the delivery of the task. Delegation does not preclude you from owning the task. You’ll learn a new skill by working through others. It will help you learn how to trust and have confidence in others.
- Do not dump – some people fall into the trap that they can delegate anything they don’t like to work on. At times they delegate without providing support or guidance or forget to empower the people to need to get the job done. Without proper guidance and support, the people you’re working with will not learn how to effectively get their jobs done.
Delegation in itself is a great thing. It all starts with an acknowledgement that you need to spend your time on other tasks that matter to you the most. It shifts the focus from completing tasks to achieving what is important to you and the organization. It means looking through different lenses in which we focus on quality and not quantity. Similarly, all people who want to cook aren’t Chefs. In order to be a Chef, you need to have the advance skills only bestowed to that level or caliber. However, it does not mean that you cannot aspire to be a Chef. Just like any job, we learn from someone we admire and respect. That same analogy applies to being a Chef. They all started learning from someone they admire and respect. Overtime they learn new skills and become a Chef.
From an overall scheme of things, sharing your knowledge and expertise is a way to improve a community. When we share our knowledge, we empower people to grow and develop. It is through sharing that we can make this world a better place. Feel free to share your thoughts.
Thanks Will. So true and very nicely written.
Great post Will. Another reason to delegate is that it is key to career growth. If you don’t delegate then you may be stuck performing the same role forever.
That was a hard lesson for me to learn. I was passed over for a number of promotions because the promotion would have required me to move to a new role. As there was no-one that knew the system that I worked on well enough the company could not allow that to happen.
Only after delegating and training other people to take over the role I was performing was I able to move up. This took me quite a while to realize and definitely set my career back a few years.
Thanks for sharing. I’ll revise my post and re-post it with your comments.
Spot on Will and very well written. I also agree with Barry’s comment.