Supervisors are sometimes perceived as not doing any work themselves, leaving everything important to their employees. While this can be true, for people who care about their business and their subordinates, proper supervisory work requires delegation. You cannot be expected to do all of the high-level work expected of you while also doing day-to-day duties to keep your office running.
Regardless of how important it is, however, learning how to be an effective delegator takes some finesse. It’s a matter of knowing what you need to do and what your employees can handle, and when giving them higher-level duties can be a good thing.
As a supervisor, even the low-level tasks on your job description are your responsibility. Even if you give them to an intern or a direct-reporting employee, if the job is messed up it comes back to you. This means when you delegate, be sure you’re picking someone who is suited for the task.
This also means don’t give a very high-level job to someone who isn’t ready for a challenge. You’re just setting them up for failure and you’ll end up looking like a poor supervisor. Delegation requires detailed knowledge of your team’s strengths and weaknesses and a desire to properly utilize them.
For some employees, the opportunity to excel at complex jobs is highly desirable. If you have an employee you’d like to promote, the first place to start evaluating them is by delegating increasingly complex tasks to their workload.
If they rise to the occasion and succeed, you know you can trust them and rely on them when you’re overburdened. By contrast, if they complain or seem to struggle, it might be an indication that they need to advance in a different direction or that they might not be currently suited for higher-level work at your company.
Sincerely delegating less complex work so you can focus on your primary job duties is not lazy, it’s efficient. If you’re being paid an administrative salary to do office clerk work, that’s inefficient and wasteful. Don’t feel bad about having someone else do your lower level daily tasks while you focus on the big picture.
At the same time, don’t delegate your entire workload. Learning how to be an effective delegator means understanding how to prioritize your time, but you also need to understand that your job isn’t just to supervise staff. If doing your job effectively means other people help you, that’s proper delegation. Giving away all your work and thinking you’re supervising effectively is just laziness.
There’s a balance to strike between overburdening yourself to be an effective leader and giving away all your work. Delegation should elevate your employees and free you up to put extra focus on your high-level job duties. You can use delegation to empower your star workers, but be wary of overburdening them with highly complex tasks.
Evaluate what you need to do yourself, and, based upon your staff’s strengths and weaknesses, delegate the rest as best benefits everyone in your office.