“I’m so overwhelmed,” my friend told me with wide eyes over her coffee, “I think I’m going to have an anxiety attack today!” Trying to mask my concern, I immediately jumped into a laundry list of helpful ideas to lighten her stress load. This friend is extremely competent, an entrepreneur, and manages a large group of people. Getting things done is not her problem. The more we talked, the more we realized that her anxiety centered around one issue–delegating.
Delegating is a scary word for an entrepreneur or type-A of any kind. The idea of handing over something valuable to another person is unsettling at best. However, delegating is necessary in order to stay sane and to allow your business or team to grow beyond an individual effort. There are multiple reasons why delegating is a scary task, and some of them are warranted, but an unwillingness to let go usually comes down to one of three reasons:
Unlike elementary school gym class, we don’t always get to pick our teams. In turn, it can be worrisome to think about handing off a task to someone that you don’t know well and may not trust to be accountable. If someone in your workplace doesn’t possess strong character, you may not have the ability or the influence to change this fact. So, if you’re debating delegating to a person who doesn’t have good follow through, it might be best to talk to your superior first. This is a situation where delegating may not be an appropriate choice because the other person truly wouldn’t finish the job.
Another reason we are hesitant to delegate is a lack of confidence in another person’s competency. This is different than not trusting someone; you could work with a very accountable person who just doesn’t have the skill set to master the task at hand. In this situation, you have an opportunity. If you want to be able to delegate to them in the future, it might be worth your time to spend a moment teaching or helping your coworker or employee how to better accomplish the task. You never know what giving someone a chance will do; they could surprise you and go above and beyond your expectations!
This is the embarrassing reason that most of us don’t delegate. If we’re honest with ourselves, we usually believe that we can do it better than someone else, especially when the thing in question is the career that we slave over on a daily basis. It comes down to the thought, “They’re not me,” which produces the fear of ‘it won’t be done my way.’ The only way to combat the growth of this tendency is to actively give away control.
The truth about delegating is that sometimes, things will go wrong because you gave away a job to someone who didn’t handle it well. It’s unfortunate and disheartening, but it is also a lesson to learn how to better delegate in the future. What caused the issue? How could you communicate better; is there a different person who could handle the task with ease? The worst thing you could do is stop delegating completely because no one can handle everything by themselves. Delegating reminds us of our need for teamwork and, more often than not, proves that two minds are better than one.