Author Aditi A Kashyap
"Hi, I am Manoj. I recently got promoted to a managerial role owing to my high-performance last year. I have five people reporting to me. I was initially excited to lead my team, but as days pass by, a manager's role is becoming very stressful for me to handle. I often end up staying up in the wee hours of the morning, trying to finish my team members' tasks. I don't trust some of them in my team to finish this within the deadline. Moreover, I feel I am more skilled than some of them to do the tasks more efficiently. I am not sure if I am being a good leader and delegating tasks well! I am frustrated as well as confused. What do I do?"
Do you find yourself resonating with Manoj's situation? When you transitioned to a manager's role from an individual contributor, did you also have difficulty trusting your team members to do their jobs better to accomplish overall team goals?
As a manager, a difficult transition that you might most often face is from doing tasks individually to leading team members to accomplish their tasks. Maximizing leadership potential involves engaging people so that they contribute their best work to your shared priorities. It is important not to let the focus on execution hold you back from the big-picture work of leading. You need to understand that delegation does not mean directing people on how to do the tasks or taking tasks on yourself due to lack of time or lack of trust in your team members' abilities. Instead, it is about assigning tasks to bring out the best in the people who are doing the job.
One study found how there is a psychological bias at play when managers are delegating work to their team members:
- The self-enhancement effect- A manager’s tendency to evaluate a work product more highly the more involved he/she is in its production
- The faith in supervision effect- The tendency to think work performed under the control of a supervisor is better than work performed without as much supervision
As a manager, it’s essential to be mindful of these biases, which could be at play when delegating tasks.
Ernest Hemingway said, “You know what is the best way to find out if you can trust somebody? To trust them”. Like Manoj, if you find yourself being less trustful in your team members’ abilities to do their tasks well, you are indirectly killing their enthusiasm to do what they are good at. The first and foremost step in delegation is trusting and inspiring others, not underestimating their qualities and instead focusing on their positive attributes to accomplish tasks.
Here are some surefire ways you can let your team members know that you trust them
- Delegate tedious tasks: These are mindless tasks that require little skill and can be easily delegated. Tasks such as copying data to excel or sorting information on a tool can be delegated and done without much mental effort.
- Give more responsibility: Create a culture of challenge in your team. Seek out individuals in your team who consistently hit goals and give them tasks that further challenge their abilities. Make their goals healthily stretch their comfort zone. Show them that you are genuinely interested in their professional development.
- Ask for inputs: Make your team members be part of the decision-making process. When taking a significant business decision, seek your team members' opinions and ask them what they think, what solutions they might offer, and how they would do things differently or better.
- Seek feedback: Don’t get caught up in merely giving directions and feedback. You need to be aware of how you are viewed by your team and your performance as a leader. Ask if you are doing anything that is getting in the way of your team members’ performance.
- Avoid micromanagement: (Unless required). Give your team members’ the authority to complete their tasks fully without you having to check on them for every detail.
- Be accessible at all times: Some of your team members might struggle with their tasks and might hesitate to reach out to you for help. Set expectations at the outset that you are available to help at all times concerning their grey areas. Create a culture where team members feel free and open to seeking your help without having to think twice as to what you might perceive them. People need to know that you are available to support them.
As a manager, you need to trust yourself first to make the right decision by delegating tasks to your team members and then trusting them enough to do their job well. You can do this by clearly outlining what needs to be done and establishing the importance of the task. Be clear about expectations and set an atmosphere wherein your team members feel free to ask questions. In this way, you will be clear to make more focused decisions with better outcomes.
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