Delegation increases average professionals’ earnings by 20%
Almost anyone with a job and colleagues can delegate…..in theory. In practice, the picture is not so rosy. Those who can’t or won’t because they believe “it’s quicker to do it myself”, are overly insecure, or who enjoy ‘doing’ too much and the task of efficiently running their departments or work portfolios too little.
Which is a shame because delegating well can make a big difference – up to 50% in improved earnings for the most highly-skilled senior individuals willing to take the plunge*. Not to mention a beneficial reduction in the number of stressed-out task junkies, frustrated juniors who are not allowed to develop (and so leave), and in the worst cases, clients who are also dissatisfied and go elsewhere. The strong desire of professionally-trained people always to want to do the best possible job is perfectly understandable. But there should be no dilemma if this is at the expense of personal, business or staff health.
Here are three tips that can help your delegation work properly – and more profitably.
It’s not an egg…..one of the biggest sins is to sit on a piece of work, perhaps for days or weeks, only delegating at the last moment. This presents the recipient with a double challenge: coping with the work delegated and juggling their often heavy existing workload and commitments. Reluctant delegators sometimes perceive that such a tactic will somehow stimulate the poor recipient into glorious action as “it’s an emergency!”. It won’t. More likely, it will only inspire future dread of the same thing happening again and a ‘run for the hills’ response.
Be SMART Assuming that a task has been appropriately delegated, nine times out of 10 it will only go wrong if instructions are not made clearly or comprehensively enough. Here, the old management saw of SMART needs to be applied.
Make sure first that you are Specific – it is very easy to give vague instructions that can be misinterpreted. The task must also be Measurable, so define clearly what successful performance will look like and result in; then Agreed (the recipient contributing to what is agreed rather than being just told); Realistic (giving unreasonable targets does not set people up for success: it is what is realistic for THEM not YOU); and finally Time-bound, with clear, specific deadlines and milestones.
Take the buck You can delegate authority but not responsibility. Overcoming the psychological barriers to delegation is the biggest challenge. Doing it is the second. Then recognising that we must still take responsibility for what is delegated is the final achievement – whether the job is successful or not. If it’s a success, take and hand out the plaudits; if not, be brave enough to take the rap (rather than pass it).
James Newberry runs People Scope, a consultancy, training and coaching firm working with lawyers, accountants and other technical specialists to help them operate successfully outside of their comfort zones. http://www.peoplescope.com.
* Harvard Business Review, “Research: Delegating More Can Increase Your Earnings”, Thomas N. Hubbard, August 2016