A friend of mine was telling me about their new-ish boss, who was promoted about a year ago. He had occasionally complained about things not being communicated, work being duplicated or missed, and the number of last-minute things his boss had to do, which impacted directly on him, as he often had to provide cover.
His boss is a good person: Hard working and genuinely keen to deliver the best service possible, but balls are getting dropped, people are working longer, and my friend is genuinely worried about his boss’s health.
Of course, this is a classic case of not being willing to let go and delegate.
Many of us like to retain control. It gives us confidence and we feel safe. However, sometimes failing to delegate can have worse results than taking a risk and delegating. There are many reasons that we don’t delegate, but two of the most common ones are:
- We assume that other people are too busy or unwilling to help
- We don’t trust the other person.
Take a simple thing like the ironing as an example. When feeling that I had too much on a few months ago, my partner agreed to take on the ironing. Now…he doesn’t iron as well as I do, and I was very VERY close to taking the job back off him, but then I realised that I had to make a simple choice:
- Have 2 hours freed up for things that only I could do and accept that the ironing was, well, acceptable OR
- Spend 2 hours ironing to a slightly higher standard and leave other things undone.
He still does the ironing. I live with it. It’s OK.
Whether you are a manager or a business owner, it is SO tempting to try and retain control of everything and do it all yourself. In the end though, you start to drop balls, you become a bottle-neck, relationships suffer as people feel excluded, you become stressed and then, you cannot give your best.
Great managers DON’T do everything themselves. They surround themselves with capable people and trust them to do what’s expected of them. They accept that some things may not be done the way THEY would do it, but as long as things achieve the minimum standard, it is often better to do less yourself, and achieve more through the team.