Part II - Organizing Your Project Team
Common Delegation Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
Delegating is the key to a successful project and what sets project leaders apart from newly designated project managers. The hardest part of delegation? Knowing when to let go. Are you delegating tasks, then finding yourself nervous, hovering over your team making sure they do it right? Well, if they don't do it right, it might be as much your fault as it is theirs.
Here are 8 of the top delegation mistakes leaders make, and how to avoid them:
1. Failure to Understand What to Delegate and to Whom
One of the top delegation mistakes is not knowing what to delegate. Do not delegate tasks that are not in tune with what your team is capable of, or better yet, find out first what your team is capable of, and then delegate. Don't' set people up for failure. Part of your job is knowing the strengths of each team member and assigning tasks at which they will excel. When it comes to physical tasks, try to restrict delegation to those tasks that you would be willing to undertake yourself.
If you train people well, you won't need to micromanage. And if you micromanage, your employees will never learn. Give enough space for people to make some decisions and grow; be supportive to ensure the work is done effectively. But first it is important to properly identify who has what responsibility and just exactly what you expect of them. This way, everyone can focus on their own task at hand.
3. Not Staying Involved to Monitor Progress
The last thing you want is it going to the other extreme from micromanaging to not managing at all. There is nothing wrong with checking in once and awhile; it's part of your job. Schedule check-in points to keep your team on the alert so that they perform with tangible and realistic deadlines. This reinforces accountability and expected results that helps you stay more hands-off.
4. Delegating Too Much at a Time
Do not wait till the last minute to delegate. If you procrastinate, your team will feel it and so will you. Do not delegate just because you are overwhelmed - this is when you will make the wrong decision on whom should be doing what. Be sensible about your choices, and be fair about how much time you give someone to execute a task. Remember, it's not just about you, it's about your team, first. If you're not sure about whom to delegate to, invest more time in your team to better understand who the right person should be.
5. Delegating Without Clarifying the Level of Authority
It is important that the person you delegate to understands your expectations. You also need to convey how much authority they will have over the work. Will they have free reign, or will you be monitoring decisions closely? This might depend on how complicated the task is, and it could also change as the project progresses.
6. Not Allowing for Mistakes and Failure
Mistakes are going to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Very few mistakes are fatal, and/or irreversible. Mistakes most often can be turned into opportunities and teachable moments. An environment that fosters people making mistakes and allowing for growth and change, is the best of environments in which to grow. Pressure and stress, in the right measure, usually brings out the best in people. So, know how to push and pull, and more importantly, create an environment where they can come to you without hesitation if something goes wrong.
7. Not Being Clear About the Goal, Vision, and Timeline
I hope you don't ever expect your team to suddenly develop psychic abilities or guess your every expectation. Be clear and concise as possible. Share specific and well-defined expectations. What are the project goals? When do you realistically expect this piece of work to be complete? How will success be measured? Request their buy-in. If they seem hesitant about taking on the task or project, you may want to reconsider having a longer talk with them what the expectations are. That will help to clarify your own mind as well.
8. Not Taking Time to Review the Work
Trusting your employee is important, but that does mean you need to review their work from time to time, and provide your approval. Without these important check-points your team has no way of knowing if they are on track. Always check everything that comes back to you. Don't accept partially finished work - don't redo anyone's work. Provide the proper feedback so they can complete the task on their own and learn. If you monitor tasks correctly (see item #2 above) then this should rarely be a problem.
Delegation is not about dumping tasks on others. It is a fine art, and if done properly, your team and your project will flourish. It starts with you, first recognizing that you more than enough to do, and that your time is better spent on higher-level tasks. Then it takes careful planning and training for a successful hand-off. Avoiding these delegation mistakes takes some work and time, but the payoffs are exponential for everyone.