Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big believer in delegation. Even if at first I didn’t understand the virtue of it, I quickly came to understand its necessity.
My first management experience was as head of a moribund chain of community newspapers. Our company bought it with great expectations. After years of virtually no growth, my job was to turn it into the likes of Jack’s proverbial beanstalk.
And that’s exactly what we did. In eight years we increased its overall gross revenues five-fold.
We started with a broken-down physical plant that was home to outdated technology – all of it parked under a leaky roof.
Handling a revolutionary increase in volume while trying to update the plant and improve productivity required a lot of learning and growth by everyone on the payroll. What I was doing one day I was delegating the next. So too were the others who were leading the growth process.
During that time I noticed that while none of us was close to perfect, some people delegated better than others. Some just dumped. Others struggled to loosen their grip even a little. Some were natural teachers and overseers. Others found delegation a toxic mix of agony and anxiety. Fortunately, we all learned and most of us improved.
If you’re an effective delegator, be sure to thank God for that gift the first chance you get. If you struggle delegating, resolve to get better at it. Study. Experiment. Evaluate. Study more. Try again. Remember, if you’re absolutely indispensable, no organization can afford to promote you.
At the same time, it’s important to realize that not all tasks ought to be delegated. Julie Winkle Giulioni, co-author of “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want,” offers a matrix to help you analyze which tasks should and should not be delegated.