Over the years, several books and articles have been published about the benefits of delegation. Harvard Business Review said it’s a sign of a great leader. The University of Southern California calls delegation an essential skill in the workplace.
But there should be a balance. Some leaders have to know every detail from the packaging right down to the ISO-certified circuit board. Some employees thrive under micromanagement. It’s not viable for managers and executives to be hands-on in all projects. The key is to be in-between passiveness and control freak. Here’s how:
Know Your Team’s Skills and Capabilities
When you are in charge of people, it’s unavoidable to delegate. But it won’t result in anything positive if it is done without direction or planning. You have to know your subordinates’ skills first before you assign them any task. Otherwise, it could lead to a missed deadline and a costly mistake. The best way to determine an employee’s capabilities is by working with them directly. That is especially important for leaders who’ve been hired from outside the company. It’s one thing to see the employees’ skills on paper. But it’s an entirely different thing to see it firsthand. You’ll get to see what type of projects they do best. You’ll also see how fast or slow they work.
When you take a lenient, hands-off approach, you ask which person likes a particular project. The problem is that sometimes more than one person is interested in a task. If you know the employees, you know which is the right person for the job. The other problem is that some workers are ready for a challenge, but they may not know it yet. If you decide how and what to assign them, you can help them grow, excel, and push their limits.
Your Mileage May Vary
Everyone works differently. Some people work best when left unsupervised. But a lot of people need guidance and direction. That is especially true for recent graduates and new hires. They will need to be personally taught so that they can learn effectively. If you put them under pressure too fast too soon, it could lead to a negative experience for both parties. You won’t get the job done as well as you need to. They could experience resentment and feel as if you’ve set them up to fail.
In an interview with recent college graduates, they described the transition to the real world using the words “lost” and “everything’s a struggle.” To be an effective leader, you need to empathize. Everyone has experience working in entry-level positions at some point. The key is to remember what the transition was and how it can be addressed. You don’t need to treat them with kid gloves. You only need to put yourself in their shoes to be a good manager. When you promote a positive and healthy workplace, it leads to great results for everyone. A study by the University of Oxford found that happy workers are 13% more productive than their unhappy counterparts.
To be a good leader, you also need to be a good communicator. You must clearly explain what you expect from them and how they can accomplish it. The key is to provide details and examples. You can’t expect someone to do a job when they don’t know what it is.
One of the good things about micromanaging is that leaders are highly involved. When you encounter a problem, you don’t need to explain every detail because they already know. The downside to micromanagers is that they can be suffocating. It’s hard to work when you’re constantly being monitored. Not only does it feel like you have no room to do anything, but it also shows a lack of trust. If your boss can’t trust you to do your job correctly, then what’s the point?
The best way to handle this is to be in the middle. You don’t have to know every minor detail about every project. But you also shouldn’t be out of the loop. Establish exact parameters over autonomy. This way, they have a clear idea over their responsibilities. You should also set up periods for feedback. They’ll know if they’re on the right track, and you’re not out of touch.
There’s no one right way to be a leader. Everyone has their own style that works for them. What’s important is that it should also be suitable for lower-ranked employees. Otherwise, it will lead to a negative and unproductive work environment.