Do you like bowling? I think people either do or they don’t.
Honestly, I don’t. And mostly it has to do with an “ick factor” that I have yet to resolve. I am not particularly fond of sticking my feet into those shoes, and my fingers into those mystery holes. *bad memories * chills down the spine*
And I imagine that this is how many leaders feel when it comes to delegation within their organization. *bad memories * chills down the spine*
Delegation is the label we have given to the process of allocating work to our pool of resources in order to advance the company and capitalize on the abilities of a team. It often becomes necessary when growing a business due to capacity constraints, is useful when value is placed on collective intelligence, and is required in order to allow higher-level leaders to focus on necessary higher-level functions.
Is it easy? Not exactly. Is it comfortable? Not always. But the results (when delegation is done well) are so much bigger than “easy and comfortable.”
Here are some comparisons between bowling and delegation that I find quite useful (and entertaining).
Delegation is like a bowling ball – Eventually you do have to let go
- There can be a sense that delegating results in a loss control. That is a myth. The truth is that many people believe they can do a job more effectively than others, so the sense of losing control of the task prevents many people from passing off work to others. Consider though, that the other person may hold knowledge and skills that will make the task or function even better.
- Set yourself and your team up for success. Your team cannot manage expectations and standards that only exist in your head. So create effective communication guidelines that will enhance clarity and confidence, and mitigate risk (errors are bound to occur, but you can manage how big they might be).
- Pick up your ball, take aim, control the backswing, and then let it roll.
Delegation is like bowling shoes – Sometimes you have to step into someone else’s
- Imagine your dream scenario of delegation and write that down (what is being delegated and to who). Then go solicit feedback from the people who will be involved. Perhaps they think of something that will persuade you to make an adjustment. And perhaps they will affirm your ideas.
- In the end you are still the decision maker, but involving the team often increases ownership of duties and roles. Step into their shoes and see it from their point of view.
Delegation is like bowling for strikes – It can take a few tries to get it right
- No one is perfect. And things will not always go according to plan. Do not loose trust or optimism when a team member misses the pins. And resist the urge to take something back when they don’t get it right the first time. People learn by trying (so will you).
- To lighten the anxiety, decide on a contingency plan. How do you follow-up after someone misses the mark? How many ‘misses’ is someone able to make before you take away their league jersey? Let people miss the mark a few times because they will learn and be even better at handling disruptions, and you will end up seeing more strikes than gutter balls.
Delegation doesn’t happen quickly. It’s not like instantly hitting a strike from beginners luck. Delegation is more like the whole experience of bowling – You tie those laces, you find the right ball, you choose your lane, you pick a fun scoreboard name, and then you order some nachos.
Or it’s something like this – the five levels of delegation:
- Do as I instruct
- Assess and report
- Assess and recommend
- Decide and inform
- Act independently
These levels, when adopted as part of your delegation process, will help you to avoid problems and clarify expectations on the front end. *download the full resource here
For some this may have been a stress-inducing read. Or maybe it helped you get past a mental block and now you feel like moving forward with the delegation process. Either way, go pour yourself a ‘White Russian’ and take a deep breath. Everything is going to be alright, Dude.
If you have tried delegating in the past and it did not go well – what do you think caused issues?