Delegating (2) = keep talking

My last post was about delegating and how it is an iterative process. It is fine to involve your team in figuring out how to delegate, as long as you don’t expect to turn your back on them and have everything done (Snow White stylee, by happy woodland creatures with smiles, singing and sparkles) when you return. Here’s some rather more practical guidance on what next …

Once you start talking about the immovable thing on your to do list, it’s likely that one of the following three things will happen:

  • Your team member(s) may start to spot things they can do to help and start to offer to do them. Let them take stuff on and schedule in a check in meeting in a couple of days.
  • You may start spotting discreet tasks or things that are blocking you. The “Oh, must do x before I can do y” realisations. DON’T add them to your to do list, ask your colleague to help, especially with these blocking tasks.
  • You may feel like you get nowhere with the discussion. Ask your team member to write up some notes from the conversation and set a time for them to come back to you with ideas on how to proceed.

So give it a try. It will build trust within your team and help give you a bit of headspace. A word of warning: you need to let go of two things to make it work:

  1. Don’t expect to be able to give your staff all the answers and a schedule for how to do it – you need to show a little vulnerability, ask for their help and collaborate with them on it.

  2. Don’t expect your team to go away and come back with a polished, finished, perfect shiny thing. Make space to chat again in a few days and surface further blockages / tasks. They’ll need your help to tune their output so it’s maximally useful to you.

Your team won’t do things the way you would – that is okay. In fact it’s really healthy for your team’s output and creativity that individuals find their own solutions. Your team problem solving power will go up exponentially.

Just keep your finger on the pulse of how they’re progressing and you’ll stay connected to what’s going on, which is good for you. Also, in the same way you’ve gone to your team with an unpolished idea of what to do that needs iterating, they’ll benefit from your input before they’ve finished the task(s).

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