Before you leave your desk today, jot down one thing you should have delegated but didn’t.
No excuses, no “but I had no choice“, just think of one thing you could have asked someone else to do.
Try it again before you go to sleep. Was there a moment in your day when you could have asked for help but didn’t? Or did someone offer to help you and you turned them down without even really considering the offer?
Sometimes we don’t even realize when we’re lifting a load someone could help us with because we’re so used to getting it done.
“I’ll just put this slide presentation together myself because I know where the images are and it’ll be faster that way.”
“It’ll take me longer to explain how to do this right than to just do it myself.”
“But they won’t do it as well as I would….”
When we don’t ask for and accept assistance, we’re not only limiting ourselves, we’re limiting the people around us.
Several years ago, I wanted to teach my kids how to help in the kitchen when they were little. It was easier to make the meal myself. It was done faster, it looked better, and the kitchen didn’t get nearly as messy. But when I was able to set aside my image of how things should be, I was able to accomplish two pretty big things: they learned a few things about cooking and, perhaps more importantly, I wasn’t resentfully working alone in the kitchen while they did something else: we spent the time together. I’d say that boost to our happiness was worth every crumb on the floor.
Work seems like higher stakes than cooking (until you’re contemplating whether to hand that kitchen knife to your kid) but remember what it was like to be new at your job? You really wanted someone to hand you that project, let you give it a try, and to coach you without micro-managing every decision you made, right?
When you can see delegation as part of the bigger picture – growth, development, expanding your team’s capacity – it becomes a positive. It’s not just handing someone else more work, it’s growing your team for the future.
Answer that question we started with for a few days and then think about what’s holding you back.
Do you need to set clear expectations so you can feel confident that you’ll get good results?
Are you setting up a system that will allow for questions and monitoring without being overbearing?
Can you start small and work your way up?
Once you begin seeing opportunities to delegate as growth moments for your team – at work or home – you may find it a little easier to entrust and encourage.
And remember: they’re not the only ones who get to grow from this experience. When you encourage your superstar team , you also create space and opportunities to push yourself to the next level.