Delegation can be your greatest tool as a manager to harnesses the power of your team to collectivly ascend beyond the abilities of any one person. Delegation also allows employees to build confidence, competence, and investment in their career with each task they take ownership of. But, as a manager, what and to whom to delegate is a constant question with heavy implications on the productivity of your organization and your relationship with those who work for you. All too often, insecurity or unfamiliarity with their team’s strengths can leave a manager overloaded on work with no one to turn to. Not engaging in delegation can create a dangerous cycle where untested workers can’t gain the experience needed to grow into someone who can be trusted to take on important work.
In this week’s Expert Roundup, our pros shed light on how to make delegation work for everyone involved. Check out their benchmarks for when someone is ready to take on more responsibility, tips on how to monitor and guide your reps through tasks to see them done right, and methods for creating a team culture where your team members are eager to take on new projects. Read on for ways to make delegation an opportunity to not just to increase productivity, but also to empower and nurture your employees.
A leader should never be above any task. It is also critical to make sure you’re spending your time on the highest leveraged activities possible and on the highest priority items.
Delegation is about finding the person best equipped to tackle the problem at hand. But there’s a slippery slope with delegation, because you run the risk of creating the perception that you’re above doing hard work.
I certainly am not, and none of the leaders here at MuleSoft are, either.
That’s an interesting component; how much to delegate? There’s a great book called Essentialism, and another called The One Thing. The idea is, every day when you into work you have to ask yourself, “What is the one single most important thing that I can do to make other tasks easier or even unnecessary?
“It’s basically applying the classic Eisenhower matrix to determine how you’re spending your time as a leader: if something is not urgent and important, you shouldn’t be spending time on it. That’s when you delegate.”
As a leader, it’s crucial to ruthlessly prioritize. Delegation is about finding the right person to do the task at hand, and it’s also an opportunity to empower them. Even if a leader believes they can perform the task better, often it’s still in the best interest of the company to delegate. And in contrast, not delegating tasks can be disempowering to employees.
The first part of effective delegation is an effective diagnosis. Learn to understand how to use data to manage your teams and to spot trends. You can’t really delegate if you don’t know the areas your team is falling short in. Learn to use data, and be willing to invest in technology to understand the deficiencies in your org. You can’t delegate effectively if you don’t understand those things.
The second part is kind of a complicated answer. I use my team a lot to tackle some of the problems and some of the challenges the team itself faces. You do that through delegation, but for it to be effective you have to create an air of ownership on the team. Everyone has to hold everyone else accountable and feel like they own a piece of the outcome. If that ownership exists, you can leverage your team to solve problems. Sales reps want to feel they have value beyond contributing revenue to the organization. And, most of the time, I think they want to feel like someone can learn something from them.
“Oftentimes, I use data to diagnose specific problems on the team and also identify the people on the team who are really good at whatever the skill others might be struggling with. Then I’ll delegate the training of that skill for the whole team to that individual.”
Part three to that is understanding the difference between whether someone is confident in specific tasks or if they’re really not. If someone’s really competent in something, naturally you want them to teach the team how to do that task better. But you also have to really consider what their comfort level and motivation level is in teaching or taking on that delegated responsibility.
To solve the question of how much to delegate, you can similarly apply some metrics. In my case, 80% of my results come from 20% of my effort. That means that I should spend most of my time doing the top 20% of my duties. The moment I feel like I have to neglect a minute of that top 20% of my duties, that’s when I know that I’m not delegating enough. That’s how I look at it. The minute when I feel like I’ve been given too much to give all of my attention to the top 20% of things I need to do to make money for the company, that’s when I know that I’m doing too much.
Brooke Lengsfelder, Director of Sales Development at mParticle
Who will reap the rewards of the work? That’s usually pretty clear.
“For example, our SDRs are territory-based, so if we’re hosting an event in San Francisco, our San Francisco rep handles invitations, because he’ll get credit for any meetings that are generated as a result of the prospect attending the event.”
That’s usually pretty clear. For example, our SDRs are territory-based, so if we’re hosting an event in San Francisco, our San Francisco rep handles invitations, because he’ll get credit for any meetings that are generated as a result of the prospect attending the event.
When it comes to delegating enough, honestly, it’s tough. I try to take everything on. One thing that’s been really helpful is when my team comes to me and says, “Hey, I know you’re really busy. Do you need help with anything?” That’s usually when I notice I need help.
Delegation is probably something I need to work on more- I always feel like I need to do something, rather than delegate it. When something comes along that needs to be done, I sometimes just do it myself because I just want it to be done quickly. There’s this notion that you should delegate the tasks that you want to do, that you would enjoy or think are really intellectually stimulating and are motivated to do. I think about that a lot whenever there’s a team project where we’re trying to do something for the benefit of all our teams. I find it’s super valuable to get people to take part when they’re already passionate about a topic.
I try to delegate the things that I actually think would be intellectually stimulating to teammates because they’ll appreciate doing those things. I try not to delegate tasks I don’t want to do because that can breed resentment. That’s not a positive course of action.
“My secret is that any time that I’m doing something that’s going to affect the whole team, I try to get people on our team to take responsibility for it.”
For instance, I have a teammate who’s a big skier. Based on one of his ideas, we decided to do an offsite to Tahoe. When the project got approved he was more than excited to take responsibility for planning the event. That may not help his professional career, but he really wanted to do it and I wanted him to, too, because it sounded like fun and motivated him.
I believe that the best way to effectively delegate is to align early and often with each individual on what their goals are or what their skill set is.
“I have found that so long as I align early on about what people’s goals are within the broader organization, then it’s easy to find tasks that align with those goals. When something pops up that is relevant to someone’s specific skill set or goals, then there’s a great opportunity for that rep or team lead to own and run with it—whether that’s done individually or as a collective effort.”
Delegating enough, that’s something that is a constant struggle. You want to empower the people who you work with to grow their careers and to take ownership of certain tasks or certain initiatives, yet you want to make sure that you are confident that they’re going to be able to handle those responsibilities appropriately.
Learn more from our experts, and see full profiles, here:
Philip Galligan, Global Manager of Sales Development at Eventbrite
Chris Pollot, Director of Sales Development at UpGuard
Dhiraj Singh, Inside Sales and Operations Manager at MemSQL
Steven Broudy, Director, Inside Sales, Americas at MuleSoft
Brooke Lengsfelder, Director of Sales Development at mParticle
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