You are doing a kickass job. The whole team is working brilliantly. Suddenly you find yourself a bit short on time. The constant stream of work keeps coming up. You notice this and decide to spend an extra hour a day to stay on top of things. Easy-peasy.
Few weeks on, you notice the same thing happening again. There is too much on your plate. You decide to prioritize the urgent and put everything else (including the important) on the backburner. You are able to push through the work, while things steadily start stockpiling. You spend more time covering everything up.
Slowly you get sucked into this vicious cycle. Your daily time is running out, your focus and productivity are going down.
Before you know it, the team is getting blocked and slowed down too. Your full plate has caused the whole line to become stuck.
This is a problem I faced at work a while back, and probably many first time managers have faced it too. Not only PMs but others as well as they transcend to a somewhat senior in their role.
This can happen due to various reasons. Example:
- You are good at what you do. Probably the best around. You think you must do it for the best results.
- You don’t know how to ask/train anyone else to do it.
- You saw the problem too late after it had already hit you in the face.
Delegation means trusting others to do the job. You find people who can do the same job, and let them handle it.
This may feel weird or troublesome if you think (and likely are) kickass at the job, and not sure if anyone else can do it the same way. Probably it’s true that nobody else can do the job as good or as fast as you (yet).
This is why you need to look at the bigger picture.
Not everything is equally important. If you are in a role where others are directly dependent on you, your output becomes even more important.
Your focus and time are better spent on specific areas where you can deliver more value. This value can be on an individual level or involve helping the team deliver better.
By entrusting others to do the work, you can free yourself to focus on these more relevant tasks resulting in increasing the whole team/company’s performance.
When there is too much on your plate, sometimes answer is not getting a bigger plate. Instead distribute to other people’s plate. even if they are smaller. Then help them build bigger plates.
How To Delegate Things Better
Here are a few things which have worked for me.
- Provide more context
Context is the king. There is no such thing as too much context. You are the best fit for your role not mainly because of your skillset but the knowledge you have. Share that.
- Realise what’s important
You can do 20 tasks that move the scale by grams or 3 which moves it by kilos. Your choice.
- Be fine with 80% of your standards
Not everything needs to be done perfectly in the first go. In the beginning, others may take more time to produce results. Even then the results can be relatively sub-optimal. Be content with that.
- Provide feedback
Delegation is the first step. But to complete the loop, you need to let others know where they can improve. Provide honest and constructive feedback for continuous delivery.
- Learn from others
Maybe you have been lucky enough to have worked with others who are good at delegation. Copy them. Or read books, reach out to people, surf the internet (golden information age ftw).
Delegation is a skill in which people get better with time. When you provide feedback to others, take the feedback on your end too.
It’s about the bigger picture after all.