How to Delegate
My daughter, Jada, has a giant pair of clippers in her hands. She looks tiny in comparison to the monstrous gardening tool. I can easily imagine it snipping off one of her little fingers. Yet, I don’t feel scared. While Jada may still be a child, I’ve trusted her more and more as she’s gotten older. And while I can ensure the job will be done safely and to my standards if I clipped the bushes myself, I never would’ve seen Jada grow and learn a new skill if I didn’t delegate the task to her.
“How can I help?” is a question I, as a leader, have always struggled to answer, both in ministry and business. Handing someone a task that requires specific knowledge, has some sort of risk, or needs prior training and observation creates hesitancy in me. “Is this going to take longer than if I just did it?” I ask myself. In the past, I’ve either hoarded the opportunity and kept tasks to myself or assigned menial tasks that didn’t mean much to me, preventing the other person from doing fulfilling work. But I’m actively trying to delegate better. Here are three things I’ve learned that have helped me.
Show VS Tell
I love the idea of teaching more than actually doing it. This is because I’m instinct-driven, not process-driven. I may know how to do something, but I don’t always know how I do it. I find myself tongue-tied and drawing blanks when delegating a task because I didn’t realize how many steps were involved in something that’s second nature to me at this point. So, what works best for me is if I walk someone through the process after I delegate. I try to ignore the voice in my head saying, “This takes longer than doing it myself.” By showing someone the process, I’m saving myself time in the future and empowering them with a new skill. That’s never time wasted.
When everything is classified as important, everything is automatically reduced to being unimportant. Everything is on the same level, so nothing is significant. It’s extremely difficult to delegate when everything seems urgent and time-sensitive. It feels like I can’t risk delegating a task to someone else and having them not complete it as fast or well as I would. This leads to me doing all the tasks and not having the time to complete them as fast or well as I normally would. One of the ways I’m battling this is by creating a to-do list and prioritizing the tasks only I’m able to do. This allows me to delegate tasks others can do or are better than me at.
Learn to Delegate from a Coach
Keenly revolves around the consulting and coaching services we offer ministry leaders. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get coaching myself. I mean, how else would I have recognized I struggle to delegate tasks? It was my coach that suggest the strategies I’ve been trying. There’s no shame or wasted time in sitting down with a professional coach who can help me evaluate my struggles as a leader and think through some solutions with me. You can also talk to a leader you admire, whose ministry reflects the future you want. Ask them what’s worked and failed for them, and gain from their wisdom. Walking with someone in a different stage of life from you can provide you with a good perspective on your effectiveness.
Delegate So They Grow
“How can I help?” my employee asks. The words, “Thank you, I’ve got this,” are ready to leave my lips. But I think of Jada, and I remember the way she helped me clip the hedges and how her fingers are all still intact (last time I checked). I think of my employee’s first day here and how much she’s grown. I remember all the times she’s followed through on her promises and gone beyond my expectations. When I don’t delegate, am I robbing her of future growth? Is avoiding the risk of her messing up making me miss out on an employee who’s able to do more than I can imagine?
“There’s a couple of things you can do.”