Are we limiting our success by not mastering the art of delegation? …. it’s simply a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. – Oprah Winfrey, media mogul
Many managers have asked me for tips on time management over the course of my career. It is a common ailment among those who are new to management. While time management tips and tactics never hurt, I find that when I get asked for this guidance, more often than not, the manager isn’t working at the right level.
Managers, especially those new to the role, recognize that what got them there in the first place was their execution- that ability to rely on their abilities to get the job done. They’re most comfortable digging into the work because there is justification and satisfaction in quantifying a tangible contribution. Often times, this means they’re working the day-to-day alongside their direct reports during work hours, leaving the early morning, late evening, and/or weekend to perform their managerial tasks. It’s a common refrain and a recipe for disaster! Here are some real-life examples of managers I’ve seen working too far into the weeds:
Not their ability to do the work! It’s their ability to get things done through others; which means learning the art of delegating, automating, and eliminating non-managerial tasks. This means turning your priority away from production, and toward connection. Most new managers have the greatest trepidation in this area, so they avoid uncomfortable conversations with their staff and fall back to their comfort zone of churning out work. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying managers should never jump in to help their staffs. Managers should pitch in from time to time, to boost morale and improve teamwork, and to stay in touch with the demands of the job so they stay relatable. But this should be the rarity, not the rule.
If you’re a CEO and what I’ve described hits all too close to home, here are some suggestions:
If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate. — John C. Maxwell, American author