How to Delegate Like a Real Boss

BY Kathy Crosett
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Do you envy other managers who have happy team members and who leave work on time every day? The secret to their success may be that they delegate like a real boss. If you’re new to management, you’re probably eager to show your value and you may hesitate to delegate.

You want your boss to see that you can handle the responsibility. And, if you’re supervising team members who were once co-​workers, you’ve got an added burden. You know what some of these people think about managers. Often, it’s not good. It’s your job to change their minds. You also know which team members tend to slack in the late afternoon and which projects they don’t want to work on.

Some new managers roll all of this information into a bad idea. It goes something like this: If they don’t do the work personally, it won’t get done. They end up working long hours, while their team members stagnate. Deborah Riegel, in her article for Fast Company, has a few suggestions on how to improve the way you delegate tasks.

The Role of a Manager

It's time to revise your understanding of what managers are supposed to accomplish. For a sales manager, the job is all about developing the team’s skills so they can make their numbers. In addition to ensuring that the work gets done, great managers also motivate their team members to want to do their best. When managers fail at these tasks, people leave. About 25% of sales reps, according to our research, leave an organization because they don’t like their manager or how the manager does their job.

Why Managers Don’t Delegate

The personal desire to be liked stops many managers from delegating work. You might worry your staff members will think you’re sending undesirable projects their way. Or you fear they’ll talk about you behind your back.

Managers also think it’s not worth the effort to train a team member on how to carry out a task. Yes, it takes time to teach an employee a task. They may not be as fast as you when they start out. You’ll also need to set aside time to review how they are doing and to provide encouragement and constructive advice. But once your employee conquers the task, they’ll have confidence in their abilities. They’ll be able to cover you when you want time off.

Of course, they won’t do the job exactly as you would. And that’s okay. When you’re tempted to micromanage, step back. Wait a day and ask yourself if their style has contributed to an improvement in the process or product. If so, congratulate them.

Delegate Like a Real Boss

Maybe you’ve had a project on your back burner for months. It’s the one you can never get to because you are buried in the details of managing day-​to-​day tasks. If you had a week of uninterrupted work time, you could complete the project and contribute significantly to the organization’s bottom line. Situations like this underscore the need for you to delegate like a real boss. When you free up your time to make meaningful contributions, you also prepare your team members to take the next step in their careers. And these team members will be more loyal and interested in staying with the organization.