Delegation – what gets in the way

What is it about delegation?

 


Delegation has so many benefits and is a vital part of effective working, so why do we have such trouble doing it?

I guess as humans we generally don’t like change. As your role or business changes, are you slow to adapt what you do? If your business has grown or you have been promoted, your role will become more strategic. You will be looking at planning for the future and working out how you will get there, as opposed to dealing with the day to day. But if you’re entrenched in the day to day, you will have little opportunity to stop and consider the future. The busier you get dealing with managing others and doing the day to day, the more difficult it will become to clearly set your direction. Work life balance goes out the window and it’s likely stress levels will mount. This is not the only disadvantage with failing to delegate. You might find it difficult to focus and productivity could fall.

Few people would think that this is a good way to work, so why do so many of us do it?

Why do we fail to delegate?

From coaching business leaders and senior people in organisations, the root of so many challenges is failure to delegate. But why don’t we delegate when the benefits are so clear?

Guilt

About asking others to do the things you are no longer doing. You want to be seen doing the day to day tasks so that the team feel you too get stuck in. But hang on, think back to when you had a manager – did you expect your manager to do everything? Or did it frustrate you when they didn’t delegate and insisted on getting involved in everything?

Fear of abandoning the team

“But if I don’t work with them, they will feel I have abandoned them.” So often the reasons why we do things is down to belief.  When I hear a statement like this, I ask if this statement is based on any evidence.  Most of the time, there is no reason to believe this.  If your team feels properly trained and supported, it is unlikely they will feel abandoned.

Fear of losing control

If you delegate, you won’t know exactly what’s going in every area of the business. It’s worth asking yourself  how much control you will have over the bigger picture and strategic aspects of the business if you don’t take time to focus. Which is more important for you to get involved in?

Belief it’s easier to do it yourself

In the short term, perhaps. It takes time to explain, to train, to ensure they’ve understood. But what happens in the longer term? Taking time in the short term to delegate will bring rewards in the longer term.

Lack of trust

Others wont do as good a job or won’t do it “like you do”. Ask yourself if this is true all the time? It is true that no-one else will do it exactly as you do.  But you may not actually be doing it effectively. Others may have better ideas of how to approach a task. Be open to how others work and see that you too can learn from them. It’s also important to ask yourself how it might feel for a team member to have a controlling boss? Will they feel trusted? If not, what sort of impact could this have?

Bad experience in the past

One difficult experience with a team member/ employee shapes all else. Have there been good experiences as well as bad? We tend to hold negative experiences in our minds for longer than good ones.  Try and shift the focus to the good experience. It might be helpful to ask yourself what you can learn from the bad experience and how you can move on.

Fear of not being needed

What will happen when you’ve delegated much of your work? Will you be a spare part? Will you go too far and delegate yourself out of a job? What is the true likelihood of this happening? Or is it more realistic to see that you will take on different responsibilities that are vital for your business or career development (as well as your sanity)?

Example

I was recently coaching the CEO of a charity. He was overwhelmed with work and stress. We started looking at why. He operated an “open door “ policy for staff which meant staff were free to walk into his office whenever they had a query or problem, or just for a chat. He did this because he wanted to be seen to be part of the team and be up for getting stuck in just like them.

I find it impossible to focus on the bigger more strategic tasks as I just don’t have the time and am constantly being interrupted.

He considered how he might reduce the interruptions.

I don’t want to discourage staff from sharing their problems with me, I want them to feel supported.

On further discussion, he came to realise that he feared not knowing every little detail of what was going on. There was a certain amount of fear of losing control.

To cut a long story short, he realised that this way of supporting others and getting so involved was affecting his work. He decided to speak to his staff and explain that he wanted to support them, but that he would make himself available for certain times of the day. He also discussed how some of the more experienced members of the team could be first points of contact if there were problems. He trialled this and found that staff were very happy to discuss problems with other members of the team before coming to him if something couldn’t be resolved (which was rare). The more experienced members of the team were actually pleased with the increased levels of trust he had shown in them. He found he was approached less frequently with queries and could focus on his own work, which reduced the stress levels considerably. He felt like his work was having more impact and this in turn helped him enjoy the work more.

Could you delegate more?

Ask yourself if you could delegate more? If the answer is yes, what can you start doing now that will set you in the right direction?

If you’d like to discuss coaching or delegation, please email me info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk

Building Resilience Skills

 Resilience = the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties

When we face difficult situations, whether at home or at work, it’s useful to have a toolbox of strategies that we can turn to.  Resilience is something that we can get good at with practise, and by ensuring we use these tools regularly, we will notice that we can cope better when life throws a curveball.

Resilience skills are vital for building a sustainable workforce and business and  by learning tools to support you and your team, you can make an enormous difference.

Something for the  resilience toolbox

Reframing – how to do it.

Consider the problem or difficulty that you’re facing.

Put it into words – you might find it helps to write it down.

Imagine it as a picture with a frame around it.  The frame your have currently is one of problems, negativity, discomfort, worry even.

Now think about what other sort of frame it could have.

Can this problem be seen as an opportunity to learn? What will you learn as a result? If you feel this is a possibility, then you can change the frame to one of learning, opportunity, interest.  Now what does the problem look like?

Or perhaps the problem or difficulty could be seen from a different perspective. How might someone you rate or respect look at it? What would they say? Now you can imagine a new frame with their perspective around it.

What about replacing the negative frame with a positive one? How would that be? What would a positive you see in the picture?

By just shifting the way you look at or see a problem or challenge, you can transform your attitude.  As you get good at this, you will find that each problem becomes more manageable and you will find your resilience grows.

As a coach and trainer, I work with people to develop better resilience skills. I am a trained resilience practitionerGet in touch if you’d like to know more.

 

Managing people

Strategies for managing people

The secret to getting better results out of others is about managing yourself better – and I realise this works in all aspects of life

A course participant left me this feedback recently after completing the “MANTRA – manage well” course.  It is such a perfect summary of what managing people is all about, that I now use it frequently to get across what we cover on the course.

Having coached so many people, from managers, business founders, directors and CEOs, one thing I heard more than anything was the frustration at the challenges they faced managing others. What I noticed over time, was that by working out how to best manage their own time, communication, workload and behaviour, they found managing others so much more straightforward.

This got me thinking that this knowledge needed to be shared, to make life easier (and more enjoyable) for others.  I gathered all the observations and learning I had from working with coaching clients and from my own experience of managing people, and designed a course which enables participants to be clear about what works for them and gain an awareness of how this can be used to successfully work with others.

There are many courses in delegation, time management, communication skills, planning, that are all helpful for honing management skills. But I saw that they just scratch the surface.  If the individual is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, unclear on aims, unable to prioritise, then no amount of time management tools will help.  It’s deeper than that, and yet simpler.

If we can find a way to be clear about what we want to achieve and be authentic and honest in delivering the message, priorities then become clear and engaging others to work with us less of a slog. If we can develop resilience and a positive mentality, the potentially stressful parts of managing become more manageable.

So before you look at how to manager others, ask yourself if there is any way you can improve the way you manage yourself.

Or ask about the “Mantra – managing well” course.

Managing others well - management training

What’s the AIM of this?

Cull those tasks that don’t align

When coaching and training, I so often see clients struggling to bring focus to what they’re doing and finding their workload stressful. Asking what the aim is of all the work and the mountain of tasks and meetings, makes a huge difference – see what you think.

Ask yourself…

When was the last time you worked out why you’re doing what you’re doing? Or indeed, have you ever stopped to work out why you’re doing what you’re doing?

Why not stop right now and have a think.

What is the aim of all the tasks that you tick off your list? What is the aim of all the meetings that you attend, the emails you write and respond to, the research that you carry out?

It’s worth writing this down, as your aim is something that should be at the core of everything you do.  But, ah, it’s not as simple as having your own aim.  There is the higher aim of the business / organisation in general (incidentally, do you know what that is? ) and your aim needs to align with it. Melded together, this over arching aim serves to bring clarity about how to spend your time and whether all those tasks, meetings, conversations, emails, really need to be done.

Put your overarching aim in the centre of all your work activities. Every morning when you come to plan your day, check with yourself that all the tasks on the list are aligned with your aim.  If not, it’s worth asking yourself if they really need to be done. You might be surprised at how much stuff you do because you have always done it or have never questioned its purpose.  And you might be pleased at how much time you can save, leaving more space for the more important stuff.

In a meeting, when conversations veer off point or participants go off on a tangent, it’s worth asking how this meeting is aligned with the business aim. Imagine all the time you will save by keeping it focused and relevant. Take it a step further and see how much you can influence the actual agenda, and encourage the question

Does every item on the agenda align with our aim?

 

Again, there are often too many agenda items that remain because it’s what has always been done, and no one had questioned its relevance or usefulness.

Your aim  is important when deciding which conversations you embark on.  Yes, it’s fine to have a chat with colleagues to find out what’s been going on for them on both a work and personal level, but these conversations can become too frequent and too long.  Then you find that your “to do” list gets longer and you don’t have the time to get much done. If you feel it’s a really valuable conversation, and by simple being mindful about how useful it is, you will start making decisions about whether it’s one for the coffee shop at lunch time, or one that could be made more formal as it’s definitely one that helps further the aim.

Reduce stress

We get stressed because we have too much to do, we reach overload.  Ask yourself how much of what you do it actually fits in with your aim.  It might mean culling a few tasks, which could be tough at first, and even feel uncomfortable if it means being honest with some people, but you will find that it frees up time to get on with what’s important. And that can only be a good thing if it reduces your stress levels.

Your personal aim

There is of course your own higher aim – the one which drives you, makes you get up in the morning, brings enjoyment and satisfaction to your work.  You need to pay careful attention to this one, as if your work doesn’t align with it, you may find yourself losing interest and finding work pointless. There is nothing like the feeling when what you do fits perfectly with what you feel is important. Ask yourself how you can do more of this.

Start the “aim project”

A simple way of starting the “aim project” is to take some time to actually work out what it is. Get together with your team and ask them.  It’s amazing how this can focus the mind.  Work out what the business aim is and what the aim is of your own role. Come up with ways of ensuring that these are always at the front of your mind during planning sessions and at the start of each day, meeting and project.

You will find it brings a great level of focus and effectiveness to all that you do.

Why not start now?

Are you holding yourself back?

Are your beliefs limiting your potential?

Coaching is all about seeing things from another perspective. Most people develop a pattern of behaviours that remains largely unchanged for much of their life. These patterns are usually formed during childhood and early adulthood, where we are learning about the world and people. These patterns also contribute to our beliefs and how we see ourselves and others. Some of these beliefs can be negative and limit our potential to do many things, including being confident, successful and even happy. Read more

Is being emotionally aware wearing you out?

Can being too emotionally aware paralyse decision making?

Psychology Today describes emotional awareness as “including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others”. Basically, if you want to be a great manager or leader, you will be advised to be an expert in self awareness. Read more

Networking – are you clear about your message?

What will you say?

Whatever your reason for networking, whether you’re a lawyer looking to make connections for business or referrals, a business owner raising your company profile or a sole trader wanting more customers, it’s essential to be clear about what your will say to others at a networking event. Read more

Coaching – an indulgence or investment?

Have you considered coaching as a tool

to bring focus and accelerate the process of getting where you want to be? Has the fact that it takes time and money put you off? Then you might consider hiring a coach to be an indulgence.  Read more

A balanced diet is important and so is a balanced life

Finding balance

Most of us understand the idea of a balanced diet.  Plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein, some carbohydrates, some (of the right) fat. We must drink plenty of water to keep ourselves hydrated. Then it’s ok to treat ourselves occasionally to something sweet, salty or a glass of wine or two.  All this works even better with regular exercise.  Not necessarily a marathon a week, but daily walks, swims or whatever we enjoy. We know that sitting at a desk all day is bad and so is driving everywhere.

Read more

Do you need to change your script?

Scripts

I sometimes think of the human mind as a computer.  We input data ourselves and so do lots of other people.  From childhood we are making sense of things in our own way and inputting these theories.  We’re also learning and listening to others who contribute their theories and beliefs.  All this forms our attitudes and behaviours and creates a script.  This script governs how we see ourselves and how we perceive others. Read more