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Graduating from doer to director

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills,Management Training

When we ask Working Smart readers what challenges they face as managers, the issue of moving from a hands-on doer to a delegating leader often vexes them. They may struggle with the idea of letting go and giving their employees room to learn and make mistakes.

We hear such comments as:

If I do it, it’ll get done right. So I’d rather do it and not worry.

• It’s more work for me to tell others what to do because that requires constant oversight. It takes half the time if I just do it.

• I enjoy getting my hands dirty. I don’t want to be the kind of boss who isn’t doing the work that I tell others to do.

Sound familiar? These managers might have good intentions, but their misguided refusal to delegate will stymie their success.

Turn yourself into a director by taking these steps:

Jettison fun tasks. List the most enjoyable, high-profile or stimulating jobs you do yourself. Then work with your boss to determine which ones you absolutely must continue to do and which ones you can turn over to staffers. Reward your best employees by doling out these coveted assignments.

Once you delegate your favorite tasks, you’ll find it much easier to pass along less appealing jobs. Before long you’ll become a full-fledged direction-setter.

Track your time. Keep tabs on how much time you spend directing others versus doing the work yourself. Log your day in 15-minute increments. Ideally, you should be training others, removing bottlenecks so they can work more productively or engaging in big-picture strategic planning.

If you’re immersed in micromanagement or devoting more than 10 percent of your day to tasks that others could do, that’s a red flag.

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