Human beings rarely know when to let go. This can be especially true for managers. In a business, people in a position of authority will often feel the need to have control of every minor detail. It's a natural response. After all, the manager is the one ultimately accountable for any mistakes.
Still, sometimes a manager needs to know when to let certain responsibilities go. Effectively delegating roles and responsibilities to subordinates, freelancers or virtual assistants can make you more efficient, your employees more motivated, and the whole company more productive.
"It's really important to just document your job," says Tyler Arnold, Co-Founder of Simply Social, a social media content management system. "Anytime you find yourself doing a task that takes longer than 30 minutes, actually take the time to document the process and see if you can actually pass the torch."
Unfortunately, managers are often the last to admit when they need to let something go. Here are five signs that it might be time to pass some of your work on to employees, even if you don't want to admit it.
An Employee Would Benefit From More Responsibility
We often think of delegating as a tool to ease the burden on ourselves, but that's not always the case. Even if you currently are doing fine with your workload, it could be beneficial to pass off certain roles or responsibilities to an employee that is not being adequately challenged.
This can be scary for a manager, as it feels like you're potentially putting someone in a position to replace you. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to reward a good employee, improve productivity, and give yourself more time to focus on higher level tasks.
Note, this should not be grunt work that you are delegating. That may just make the employee feel as though they are being punished for their competence. To reward an employee, give them work that is interesting, engaging, and meaningful. It also helps them to know that they are being assigned work their boss normally did, which may be an achievement they can be proud of.
Someone Else Can Do The Job Better
It's hard to admit when someone can do a job better than you. As a manager, it almost feels as if it undermines your authority. However, sometimes you have to be open to recognizing when a subordinate is better qualified for a job.
This can be especially true in a smaller company, when a manager can be required to wear many different hats. You might find yourself working on things like marketing or web design that are simply outside your wheelhouse. In these cases, it's better to allow a more qualified employee to take on that responsibility rather than devoting your time to something you're simply not good at.
It's a Skill Someone Needs To Learn
Maybe you're comfortable with your workload, and your current employees are happy with the work they're doing. It still might be a good time to pass on some of your duties. In fact, this might be the best possible time to delegate and give an employee a chance to learn a new skill.
Even if things are great now, it might get busier in the future, and you don't want to be in the position of not having anyone available to pick up the slack at that point. Passing off responsibilities during times of relative calm will also allow them to learn the required skills in a low-pressure environment, while you have plenty of time to teach and assist them.
Your Work Is Done
Some projects have multiple phases. In the initial phase, when the overall goals and strategies are being developed, you as a manager might be heavily involved. As the work progresses, and the project has well-defined steps and expectations, it might be time to allow others to take a more prominent role.
Spending too much time working on the details of a project will make it harder for you to pull back and think about the larger strategic issues that should be more your focus as a manager.
There's Not Enough Time In The Day
Sometimes, you genuinely don't have enough time to get all your work done. This one can also be hard to admit. If you find yourself constantly having to stay later than you intended, pushing back deadlines, or making mistakes because you're rushing, it's time to ease your burden and delegate.
If the sheer volume of work forces you to pass off your responsibilities, document your work, discover what you can effectively delegate, and think about who you would give it to. Consider giving the work to a freelancer or even virtual assistants. If an employee is the way to go, make sure they have the time, and only give them tasks you believe they can do effectively.