The Danger of Delegating: It’s All in the “What”

Posted January 4, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

If I were interviewing for a job (thank goodness I’m my own boss so I don’t have to), and someone asked me one of my greatest weaknesses, I might say that I’m terrible at delegating. Now, that isn’t some sideways way of saying I “work too hard.” It’s truly a weakness. I have a difficult time seeing strengths in others, therefore making it difficult for me to remember to give them things based on their strengths. I also have a hard time letting go of the way a task is done, and would usually prefer doing it myself.

As an entrepreneur, with new staff and writers and contractors working alongside me, I’ve struggled even more with delegating and being able to effectively decide what should be on my plate and what should be on the plates of others. So when posted “Whatever You Do, Don’t Not Delegate,” I listened. Ok, ok, I know. I need to delegate. But what I learned from the article, and from a little more research is that I’ve been looking at delegation in the complete wrong way!

The Wrong Way to Delegate

Delegating tasks, and treating employees like what calls “order takers.” I think this is often how supervisors look at their employees. What’s on my task list now that I can “farm out” to my employees? Wrong!

The Right Way to Delegate

Delegation is about outcomes and responsibilities, not tasks. Good delegating means saying, “This (project, outcome, goal) is your responsibility. I trust you to accomplish the goals and I’m here to help if you need me.” Because, in that, delegation also means being willing (and able) to walk away and allow the employee to handle the issue or project.

One thing I need to take into account is the notion calls “people do things differently.” Sometimes the same task can be done 157 ways. Be comfortable with the fact that your employee may do it in way 156 while you might do it in way 1. That’s OK.

What about you, Career Girls? Are you good delegators? How did you learn to delegate well?

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."