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The Delegation Dilemma: How to Build Trust and Reduce Burnout

 Orange Leaf Consulting shares how managers who wisely delegate projects can create a win/win scenario for themselves and their team.  

By Tressa Jumps

Originally posted at Orange Leaf Consulting

You’re on a plane, 35,000 feet in the air and the friendly flight attendants are getting ready to serve you a snack and drink, but all of a sudden, they step aside, and the pilot walks down the aisle and starts pouring drinks and passing out peanuts.

For a moment, it seems kind of charming, the pilot coming out to say hello, greet the passengers and mingle a bit. But by the fourth row, you start to wonder. If the pilot is passing out peanuts, who is flying the plane?

Now, let’s take that same scenario and apply it to the business world. Each person in your organization has a role; some fly the plane, some maintain the plane, and some pass out snacks and are customer-facing. Part of the leader’s responsibility is to make sure everyone understands their role and completes their assignments. Not to take on everything themselves. Let’s talk about the delegation dilemma.

The delegation struggle is real

Why do we struggle with delegation? Many don’t want to give up control, don’t trust other team members or think they can do the job better than everyone else. Sometimes it is fear that something will go wrong. This way of thinking and operating reduces efficiency and is detrimental to the growth and scalability of the business. It can leave staff feeling underutilized, micromanaged, and, most importantly, undervalued. Not to mention, that is a fast track to burning yourself out, too.

Instead of trying to DIY, an effective leader knows how and when to delegate. Note: Delegation is not “task management,” leaving you to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong. You’re allocating a new authority to be held responsible for the assignment. But here are a few things to consider before you offload the duty of passing the peanuts to an associate.

Pre-flight check

The first step of delegation is to make sure that you choose the right associate for the task and they are properly trained to do the work. Ensure they understand why it is important and how it fits into the organization’s overall goals. Identify any obstacles they may encounter and help them to know how to handle these new situations.

Secondly, monitor their progress and provide feedback when they’re finished. While they’re learning, they might need a little assistance, and that’s okay. Telling them what went well and providing constructive feedback boosts their confidence and helps their growth for improvement next time.

Lastly, celebrate the wins! Recognizing and appreciating their willingness to learn can boost morale and incentivize them to take on even more challenging work.

There has been a bit of turbulence in the market lately, and there is still a lot of uncertainty. As the pilot of your team, it’s how you manage the bumps that can make or break your success in landing the plane. This turbulence can be anything. Right now, especially, it’s changes in the market.

Experiencing a bit of turbulence

But turbulence is ever-present. It can also present itself as turnover and staffing changes, introducing new processes, policies and procedures or even culture changes. As the pilot, your job is to lead the team; to do that, it might mean delegating so you can lead the changes needed to help your company thrive.

Letting go is scary. It is hard to let someone else take over a task that you have always done. Lots of things will run through your mind. What if they mess up? What if they don’t do it the way I would? You’ll have to battle some of those mental demons to really be able to let go. But let’s look at the benefits of delegating, and maybe that will help you give it a whirl.

Delegation helps:

Boost morale. When your team members have ownership of their projects and roles, it instills a sense of trust in your managerial skills and boosts morale and loyalty.
Build culture. Allowing your team members to take advantage of new opportunities to learn and grow within the company makes for a stronger culture.
Increase your ROI. When you, as a leader, take on tasks that could and should be completed by someone else, it allows you to focus your energy on more important, higher-level matters. (Not to mention that if you are serving peanuts, you are a very overpaid flight attendant!)

Cleared for landing

Delegation benefits not only you but the overall business. When you’re not bogged down with day-to-day tasks, you’re freed up to problem-solve and develop innovative ways to improve the organization. Holistic delegation allows you to have a bird’s eye view of the company. It gives you room to assess available resources, compare your team’s skills with the goals of the organization and distribute responsibilities. Having the ability to “let go” through delegation strengthens your role as a leader. It instills confidence in your team members to grow within their roles, increases productivity and reduces overall stress and burnout.

So, who are you going to pass the peanuts to this week so you can GROW BIG?!

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