Delegation is tough, yet it is what sets bosses apart from true leaders. If done properly, your team and business will flourish. Remember that delegation isn’t about dumping tasks on others. It starts with acknowledging that your time might be better spent on more top-level tasks, as well as recognizing opportunities for team learning and growth.
Below are eight common delegation pitfalls — and what leaders should do instead. Avoiding these delegation mistakes takes some work and time, but the payoffs are exponential for everyone.
Mistake #1: Not Knowing What to Delegate
Don’t delegate tasks that are not in tune with what your team is capable of. Better yet, find out first what your team is capable of, then delegate. Don’t set people up for failure. Part of your job is knowing the strengths of each team member and assigning tasks at which they will excel.
Mistake #2: Micromanaging
If you train people well, you won’t need to micromanage. And if you micromanage, your employees will never learn. Give enough space for people to make some decisions and grow. Be supportive to ensure the work is done effectively, but don’t assume control of the tasks you’ve delegated. That defeats the purpose!
Mistake #3: Not Monitoring Progress
The last thing you want is to sway toward the other extreme of micromanaging — not managing at all. There’s nothing wrong with checking in once and awhile. In fact, it’s part of your job. Schedule check-in points to keep your team on alert that they need to perform with tangible and realistic deadlines. This reinforces accountability and expected results, helping you stay more hands off.
Mistake #4: Delegating Too Much at Once
Don’t wait until the last minute to delegate. If you procrastinate, your team will feel it and so will you. Don’t delegate just because you’re overwhelmed — this might result in delegating to the wrong team member or giving someone too little time to execute a task. Remember, it’s about your team first.
Mistake #5: Delegating Without Clarifying the Level of Authority
It’s important that the person you delegate the task to understands your expectations. You need to convey how much authority they will have on the matter. Will they have free reign, or will you be monitoring decisions closely? This might depend on how complicated the task is, and it could also change as the project progresses.
Mistake #6: Not Allowing Room for Growth
An environment that fosters people making mistakes and learning is the best in which to grow. Mistakes are going to happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. Remember that very few mistakes are fatal, and/or irreversible, and that mistakes can be turned into opportunities and teachable moments. Pressure and stress, in the right measure, usually brings out the best in people. Therefore, know how to push and pull, and more importantly, create a space where your team can come to you without hesitation if something goes wrong.
Mistake #7: Not Being Clear About Goals
I hope you don’t expect your team to suddenly develop psychic abilities or guess your every expectation. Be as clear and concise as possible. Share specific and well-defined expectations. What are the project goals? When do you realistically expect the project to be complete? How will success be measured? Request their buy-in. If they seem hesitant about taking on the task or project, you may want to reconsider or have a longer talk with them about why they’re not sure they can do it before delegating.
Mistake #8: Not Providing Feedback
Trusting your employee is important, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to review their work and provide your approval. Without this important checkpoint your team has no way of knowing if it’s on track. Always check everything that comes back to you. Don’t accept partially finished work, and don’t redo anyone’s work. Provide the proper feedback so they can complete the task on their own and learn. If you monitored the task correctly (see #2 above), this should rarely, if ever, be a problem.
A version of this article was originally published by Women Leading Travel & Hospitality’s sister brand, Women in Retail Leadership Circle.