Why Business Leaders Must Learn to Delegate

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Good managers must learn to delegate. Not only will it reduce your personal workload and stress levels, but effective delegation also holds a range of benefits for your team and the organisation.

Singaporeans have the longest working hours in the world, and that’s leading to less time for family. According to the 2016 Family Bonds survey, 50 per cent of respondents revealed that their long working hours prevented them from spending more time with their family, with one in 10 Singaporeans spending six hours or less with their immediate families per week.

Workplace stress is also on the rise in Singapore. More than half of Singaporeans surveyed for the 2016 Working in Asia study said their stress levels had gone up over the last six months – and 35 per cent cited their workload as the reason.

There’s a simple solution to these problems. Managers must learn to delegate to reduce their workloads and achieve better work/life balance.

Benefits of delegation

Delegating non-core tasks creates more time for you to focus on higher value projects and relieve time pressure that can drive up your stress.

Besides, delegation is not just good for the mental health of managers – it can also improve business efficiency and help you build a stronger team. For starters, delegating helps prepare staff members to cover for your absence so your department doesn’t suffer productivity losses while you’re on annual or sick leave.

As well as building skills within your team, delegating tasks can also help you boost internal collaboration as your team members are forced to build new relationships and seek new knowledge from people and departments they may not come into contact with during their day-to-day tasks. On an organisational level, this also helps break down department silos and creates a culture of information sharing.

Assigning your employees more responsibility through delegation is also an excellent way to develop the next generation of management talent. Offering your staff new responsibilities will boost their morale as employees start to embrace the challenges involved. Better morale in turn reduces employee absenteeism and staff turnover, which are associated with poor job satisfaction.

From an organisational perspective, using delegation as a tool for staff development also creates greater stability within the company. Internal staff will be better prepared for promotion, which eases the issue of succession planning and reduces the costs involved with recruiting and training external talent.

By delegating a task, you’re also bringing new ideas and a fresh perspective to it that you may not have considered on your own. This can lead to a range of improvements and innovations that can help improve operational efficiency.

Barriers to delegation

Despite the many benefits of delegation, some managers continue to resist it due to a fear that giving up control over a task may lead to project failure, or even negatively impact their own standing within the company as an employee demonstrates his or her ability as a rising star and becomes a threat.

While envy of another’s abilities is a normal human emotion, as a manager one must remember that the success of a team member is also one’s own success.

Another reason for resistance could be that you don’t have sufficient time to explain what needs to be done, and how it needs to be done. While this may be true in the short term, you’ll reap the benefits of delegating in the long term as your team expands their skills and experience, and becomes more capable of handling a range of tasks as independent workers.

If you simply don’t have faith that your team members are currently capable of handling new tasks you’d like to delegate, begin with small steps. Start by delegating a few simple aspects of the task to build confidence.

How to ensure successful delegation

Ensuring successful delegation begins with knowing which tasks you should delegate and which you shouldn’t.

For example, never delegate tasks that require long-term strategic planning or decision-making, or tasks that will put an unmanageable burden on staff members who are already overworked or under-resourced. Also, you should not delegate any of your core responsibilities, or any critical or crisis situations.

It’s vital to clearly articulate the responsibilities of each team member, and exactly what you expect them to achieve. Then confirm their understanding, and offer them the freedom they need to complete the task.

Delegation doesn’t mean you should take a hands-off approach. It’s important to provide regular feedback to keep the project on track. But remember that this is a development exercise for the team members and they’ll need your support, guidance and patience.

Delegating tasks can make your life as a manager easier, and enable you to better perform your overall duties while allowing employees a chance to develop new capabilities.