Monday, 3 November 2008

The Problem With Delegation

Stop Press - managers and leaders around the world are having problems delegating - it's official!

Apart from the usual excuses such as "it's quicker to do it myself" and "if I want a job done properly I'll do it myself", the current economic climate and the inevitability of downsizing is leading to another challenge "I don't have anyone to delegate to".

As teams shrink to remain lean in tough times, managers and leaders are finding there are less people to delegate to and team members are stretched to their limit. But as you know, this column does not focus on problems, like any good leader should, we seek solutions. So what can you do about today's little delegation dilemma?

Engage your team
Involve your team in the challenge and ask them if they have any ideas or practical measures for improving efficiency. Remember, great ideas can come from anywhere and your team are a great place to start.

Improve Processes
Take time out to review your team's processes to identify where and how they can be made more efficient. The key question you and your team should be asking is "why do we do it this way?". Just because a current process has been working doesn't mean it can't be improved and now is a great time to look for efficiency gains.

Share Knowledge
Are your team still reinventing the wheel? Make sure they are sharing knowledge and best practice, not just amongst themselves but also with other teams. Can any of this shared knowledge be absorbed into standard templates for some of their work?

Now is a great time to look for opportunities to automate your team's work. Talk to other team leaders. Talk to the IT department. Talk to your team. What can or should be automated and how can we make it happen?

Is there anything we are doing as a team that really doesn't need to be done? Perhaps it is a case of partial elimination of some tasks, maybe looking for opportunities in lower impact areas of doing a job that is 'good enough' rather than 'perfect'.

Reviewing what your team does and how it does it with a view to helping them become more efficient will not only improve your options for delegating/allocating work among team members. It will also put your team in a great position to deliver excellent results when growth returns - and growth will return, as sure as daytime follows nightime.

Simon Cooper is chief executive of the Experiential Learning Centre, author of the exciting new book Brilliant Leader and architect of the unique and powerful Brilliant Leadership workshops.

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