4 Decisions for First-Time Delegators

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“Being able to delegate effectively is critical to your success,” says Alice Katwan, Vice President of Sales, North America West with Genesys. I interviewed Katwan in a webinar in which our agenda was driven entirely by audience questions, with listeners submitting their stickiest management situations. One participant, Susan, asked: “What advice can you provide on delegating key elements of your role to others?”

After her children reached a certain level of independence, Katwan transitioned from her role as a high-performing sales account manager to a role managing sales teams. Recalling her early supervisory roles, and the coaching advice she’s offered other new managers, Katwan says it’s typical for first-time delegators to struggle with letting go of responsibilities. But you don’t have to.

“The most successful leaders don’t try to do it all,” says Katwan. Here are four practical decisions you can make, right now, to step away from day-to-day tasks and delegate with confidence.

Decision #1: Admit that delegating is crucial to your success.

“As you advance in your career and take ownership of larger projects, it becomes increasingly difficult to juggle your responsibilities and maintain the quality of your work,” says Katwan, whose sales team is responsible for half of Genesys’ North American revenue. Avoid delgating, and you’ll become a barrier to your own career success. Once you make the decision to delegate more, you’re not only freeing up your time and getting more done, you’re also making a strong commitment to your career growth. As Katwan encouragingly reinforces, “Delegating to others is crucial to your own career success.”

Decision #2: Invest the time.

“Delegating takes more time up front,” acknowledges Katwan. As a first-time manager transitioning into your new role, you’re probably feeling stretched by your workload. There are times when it will seem more efficient to simply accomplish a task yourself. But you can’t afford to distract yourself with small, immediate tasks. As a new leader, your top priority should be looking to the future, thinking strategically, and setting the vision and direction for your team. “In the long run,” says Katwan, “delegating will save you time and allow you to focus on the bigger picture.”

Decision #3: Believe in your team.

If you hoard tasks that could be delegated, it sends a message to your team that you think you’re indispensable, and that they’re not up to the task. Keep this up, and they may start to believe you don’t trust them. In order for your team to succeed, you need to let go. “Tell your team that you believe in them, and that you value their work,” says Katwan. As you hand over various responsibilities, she recommends: “Let them know you want them to succeed and grow their careers, too.”

Decision #4: Encourage your team to contribute ideas.

Once you’ve committed to relinquishing some key responsibilities, investing the time, and believing your team, you can begin to create a more collaborative environment by including your team in important decision-making. “It’s not just about you; it’s about the team,” says Katwan. “Include your team in identifying solutions so that it’s a group effort.”

Katwan models this philosophy by asking team members to contribute ideas and figure out how to execute on key initiatives. “Be an advocate for cooperation and collaboration,” she says. “If you include everyone in the process of creating ideas, goals, and targets, you make it a more fun environment, and everyone plays a part in the team’s success. I always say, ‘Hey, we’re a team and we’re all striving for the same goals, so let’s all collaborate and do this together.’”

Being an effective manager requires delegating more, which starts with committing to these four decisions. In doing so, you’ll not only free up your time to focus on bigger-picture initiatives. You’ll also build a capable, self-reliant team. Which of these four decisions will you make today?

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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