On my last post, where the comments are especially good, Diana wrote that delegating has always been hard for her and she asked how a manager can overcome the following problem: “If the people I was managing didn’t know what I was doing that was more important than what I was delegating for them to do, they would get fussy and say (amongst each other) that I was a bad manager because I never did anything myself, I just pawned things off on them.”
This is a great opening to talk about one of the most misunderstood parts of delegating: You should delegate your most important work and keep the crappiest work for yourself. This way the people you delegate to will love what they are doing, and they will appreciate how much trust you have in them. You should do the crappy work yourself because it is so hard to lead people effectively if you are giving them crap to do.
If you are worried that they won’t do a good job on the important stuff, then coach them. Management does not mean getting the crap work off your plate to make time for important work. It means doing the crap work and doing a lot of coaching, and, if you’re really good, making time to take on projects to expand your own skills.
As a manager you always have to think about things from your team’s perspective. Three things to remember:
1. The people you supervise will think you “do nothing” if you do none of the crap work.
2. “Important work” means that it helps someone meet their own goals. So you should delegate to people not based on what is important to you, but what is important to them.
3. The number-one factor in job happiness for young people is training. If they think they’re learning a lot on the job, they’ll like the job. You need to constantly coach these employees and teach them new skills and ideas. If you don’t, you won’t be able to lead them.
So forget delegating the unimportant stuff. Just do it yourself. But ask yourself, if it’s so unimportant, why is anyone doing it?