Having troubles delegating? Because nobody can do it like you do? Take this first step.
Why can’t you delegate? You don’t have people? Or they can’t do the job? Or they can’t do the job as well as you? Or they don’t have the confidence to do the job?
Reasons might be genuine sometimes. But if you are overworked, and are not able to delegate at all, it is time to think again. Is it about other people? Or is it about you?
People may not be able to do it like you do, but here are a few questions to be asked.
- Have you trained them, or given them enough exposure and time to catch up? Have you helped them gain the confidence needed to do the job?
- Is is necessary for the task to be done as well as you would do? Somebody might be doing it slowly and taking more time in correcting mistakes, but does the cost of doing it quickly and correctly yourself outweigh the benefit?
- And the final and the most important question — is the quality of work done by other people inferior to what you would have done? Or is it simply different?
When I look at people around me, who are overworked and are unable to delegate, I am surprised at how often the third point mentioned above is the reason behind it. In our heart of hearts, we do not like people who are different from us. There is a Darwinian evolutionary explanation for this. This tendency of liking people who are similar also extends to liking ideas, attitudes and working-styles, which are similar to us. So, many a times, when we think we can’t delegate because the other person is not doing it right, the reality is that the guy is just doing it differently, not incorrectly. This tendency of dismissing what is different from us comes in the way of training people as well. If they keep getting negative feedback for doing things their way, they will never develop the confidence to do things on their own, or lose any confidence they already had. After a while you will find that even when you want them to do something, they will come back to you for approval before even lifting a finger. They are not sure you would approve unless it is done your way. More work for you!
But can we do anything to check this irrational tendency if dislike for dissimilar is ingrained in us by evolution? Why not? There are many “natural” tendencies that we suppress and modify with our will-power.
Next time you find yourself about to object to someone’s way of doing things, stop for a moment and ask yourself this question.
Is it really going to hurt if you let the person be, or agree with them, instead of doing it your way?
Simple as it may sound, it is a very effective question. If someone prefers one design of the new year card to be sent to the customers, over other, even if your choice is different, is it really going to make enough of a difference? You might feel that this sentence should go up and the earlier one should go down? But is that necessarily better, or is it just you itching to do it exactly how you feel like doing it? You might feel that the extra precaution someone is taking in a task is useless. But is it really that time-consuming or negative that you must stop it?
To avoid misunderstanding, I do that mean you let people do whatever they want. That would be a recipe for chaos. When they must be corrected, they must be corrected. And that is a part of proper training. In such cases, explain your rationale. And hey! Once in a while you are allowed to indulge yourself too. Even if you are making the change for no reason, tell them so. That what you have done is right, but I am more comfortable this way. So long as you are not overdoing it, people would accept.
But before picking up that red pen, think once! Is it really necessary to cross that out? A lot of stuff can be done in differently and yet in an acceptable fashion. Put that pen down and resolve your delegation issues.