One of the toughest tasks many bosses encounter on a daily basis is handing the reins of projects and tasks to their employees.
Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters and a corporate trainer for Fortune 500 companies, has found that most leaders don't delegate because of a fear of losing control. She says that fear however can cost them in the long run because what they are really doing is robbing employees of the ability to enhance their skills, communicating a lack of mistrust, and fostering a perfectionist culture.
"No one wants to work in an organization or for a leader who doesn't trust and value them," Brownlee told BusinessNewsDaily. "Particularly for younger employees (or those new to a particular area), this can really destroy their confidence, which can have particularly negative repercussions."
Brownlee said results actually suffer when a control freak boss is handling all of the work.
"In particular, if you're removing any opportunity for creativity or innovation, then you're missing huge opportunities for potential improvements," she said.
Brownlee offers leaders several tips on how they can loosen their grip on controlling everything around the office.
- Start small: Don't delegate something that is mission critical.Delegate something small (initially) and work your way up to delegating larger, more important tasks.
- Seek the right fit: Everything shouldn't be on the table for delegation. Not just because of the importance of the task, but also because some tasks are a better fit for the particular person you're delegating to than others. Look for areas where employees have unique ability, interest or insight if possible. Maybe they're a skilled Web developer, but never presented a new website to a client. This task, while new for them, showcases their natural strengths and provides them with a boost of confidence.
- Don't have unrealistic expectations: Remember that there is a difference between someone doing something "wrong" and not doing it the way you would have done it. Style differences are just that. If they prefer circle bullets, and you prefer squares, keep it to yourself.
- Ask employees what level of support/communication they want: Everyone hates the micromanager who half delegates. Avoid this by asking them how often they want to check in with you. If they propose a timetable that doesn't provide enough feedback in your mind, ask if you can check in more frequently initially and then reduce the frequency as the task progresses.
- Reward effort and results: In order for employees to truly learn, they need to feel that it's OK to make mistakes. In a learning environment, effort is as important as results. It's an achievement if employees are stretching their abilities and trying new things, and that should be acknowledged. With increased confidence comes better results, so don't focus on results exclusively.
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