Learning to delegate is one of those things that you don’t really need to do much at the beginning of your career. And since it’s not (rarely?) taught in school, it’s something you largely have to develop on your own if you aren’t a natural delegater. (Incidentally, that would make a great name for a tasty alligator dish.)
If you’re good at what you do, delegating that work is HARD. How can I give this task to someone else when I know I can do it better, more quickly, or more to my exacting standards? It often feels like it would take as long to explain how to do it and support the person than it would take to do it myself.
Or would it?
If you’re anything like me, you probably do one of two things that sabotage your ability to delegate: you underestimate how long it will take to do something, or underestimate how capable your coworkers are.
I have been focusing heavily lately on delegation. In the project I’m currently involved in, I have done a large chunk of the ‘heavy lifting’ tasks. With deadlines and pressures, this is not practical. Instead, lately, I have been tending to ‘prime’ these tasks: clarifying and preparing things that need to be done so that someone else can take on some of the burden. Then I can evaluate the work of others, assist with remediation, and spend more time helping to plan, estimate, and prime other tasks. Not only does this help relieve some of the burden on me, but giving stretch tasks to others and then providing feedback/evaluation of their work helps them improve their skills. Wins all around.