When you ask me for tips on how to delegate, here is what I will ask you next...
"Good grief." It's times like these that no one better than Charlie Brown can put into TWO (G-rated) WORDS exactly what is on our minds. Whether you have school-aged kids at home, are helping to care for loved ones, are managing challenges at work or are looking for a job, (or some combo thereof) we all have a WHOLE LOT going on. When we emerge from our TV binges—Charlie Brown holiday specials, or whatever else provides a few moments of mental respite—we find ourselves juggling so much on the home front, that it can be hard not to bring it to work.
At book club this month, we discussed Mike Robbins’ Bring Your Whole Self to Work. The book provides perspective on, in a nutshell, how we work best when we can be ourselves. Every workplace out there has a culture, a set of written and unwritten rules for success, and some are better than others at allowing for employees to be authentic. Robbins urges us to be authentic and share about ourselves—that is, open up about what really makes us tick—when we enter the doors of the office, or the Zoom meeting room, as may be the case for most of us these days.
The discussion we had at book club is related to something I often speak about in coaching sessions and in trainings. We all have some basic psychological needs that, when met, make us feel more motivated and more engaged.
As an aside: This holds true for adults and kids alike. That's why the principles that we teach leaders in the workplace also work for relationships outside of work.
“Feeling empowered,” for example, is one of the three foundational needs in the Dynamic Engagement model, along with "feeling valued" and "feeling connected." The underlying psychological need is related to control. When people feel they have a sense of autonomy, they feel they have control over their decisions. When a person feels that they are not in control, they could end up feeling helpless and spiral downwards quickly.
The challenge for leaders is learning how to step in and set guardrails/structure for others while also stepping back and allowing people to create/innovate. Many leaders struggle with this tension and often ask for tips on how to delegate. However, we suggest before jumping to the mechanics of learning how to delegate, you think about why it may be hard to delegate. It's worth investigating some time thinking about why it may be so hard for you to let go. In working with so many leaders over the years, I've heard a variety of reasons as to why people struggle with delegation. For example, some people struggle because they don't want to risk damaging relationships and burdening others by putting more on their plates. While others don't fully trust that their employee is capable or able to think critically about key decisions. And, then there's some who simply don't want to give up control. We work with leaders to look beneath the surface and uncover the why. First address the why, then address the how. We encourage you to do the same.
The next time you're feeling overwhelmed, see if there's a way to delegate to others (in your professional or personal life). And, if you find yourself hesitating to delegate to others, pause for a moment to think about the why and address those challenges first. As always, we love hearing from you and finding out what works. Keep us posted!
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