Delegation sounds simple, yet, it often causes us more stress by either debating what and to whom we should delegate to or, taking the work on ourselves and burning out. Especially when we are overloaded and facing no end in sight to our pile of work becoming higher and higher. During these times, we can feel like it is easier to do something ourselves, we don’t want to put more work on others plate, and it’s more time efficient to do it ourselves despite the personal cost that carries with it. Yet, there is a way to delegate work for our benefit AND the benefit of our team members, which will reduce our burnout. Three (3) easy ways we can help reduce burnout through delegation are listed below.
- Protector or Propagator? – It is often said that things roll downhill. When they do, what we choose to do as a leader greatly impacts those around us. One of the most common traits described, when talking about leaders people look up to, is protection. Protection from the stance of shielding direct reports from administrative or political obstacles that get in the way of direct reports being able to do their jobs efficiently and timely. For us, as leaders, are we protecting our direct reports and making their lives easier by removing obstacles and hurdles which get in the way of them doing what they’re responsible for or, are we propagating burdensome unnecessary work and an attitude which hinders our relationship with them? When we protect our direct reports, they are more willing to take on additional delegated work AND do so with the quality that meets our needs. Being a protector SETS the tone with our direct reports AND makes it easier to get the help we need through delegation during times like these, consequentially reducing our burnout as leaders.
How do you protect your direct reports?
- Helping or Hindering – When we are faced with should we or should we not delegate work, there is one uncommon question to ask ourselves which can make all the difference. That question is “Are we helping or hindering the person we are delegating the work to?” When we’re hindering that person, we are simply delegating more work to them, regardless of what’s on their plate already and their state of burnout. However, when we are helping that person, we are orienting the delegated work to their strengths and career goals. Simply put, we are considering how the delegated work aligns with and benefits this person. When we do this, we WILL alleviate our burnout as it reduces our stress and anxiety around delegating the work because there is distinct value in and benefit from delegating the work. It also makes it easier to decide who we should delegate the work to.
What strengths and career goals of your direct reports align with the work you want to delegate to them?
- Questioning Our Assumptions About Delegating – A common question we have around delegating work is: “What will others think of me?” Some of the most common answers to that question are: “They will think I am being lazy,” and “They will think I am merely pawning off work I don’t want to do myself.” These assumptions can cause us to not want to delegate work, take it on ourselves, and add to our burnout by doing more, cutting into time with our families, and increasing our level of stress. However, we ARE capable of questioning the rational of those assumptions. “Do I have evidence that supports them?” “Does my team actually think I’m lazy?” “Does my team see me in the trenches with them?” “Does my team know I protect them from work rolling downhill?” … All of these questions WILL reduce our burnout by alleviating the stress and tension we feel from our assumptions around delegating work to others, knowing they are not supported in actuality.
What assumptions do you make around delegating work and what evidence do you have which counteracts them?
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