How To Let Go And Delegate

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One of the hardest aspects of managing other colleagues is trusting them to take some of your workload. Sharing tasks and working together towards the same goal sounds easy but some managers find it nearly impossible to give away tasks to others, while some do it too readily while offering little guidance and support. This article suggests ways of delegating to improve your working life, but that of others too.

Excuses why not to delegate:

  • I don’t want to shirk my responsibilities
  • Others are just as busy as I am
  • I’m not confident that my team will do the job as well as I would

Benefits: why delegate?

  • Time management: in circumstances where a deadline is looming or where a project is simply too big for one person to handle, delegating work is essential otherwise it will not get done.
  • Developing your staff: by allowing your colleagues to have a taste of the work that you do, you can develop their skills making it easier for them to progress in their own careers. It will also make them more motivated and satisfied.
  • Mentoring a replacement: if you move jobs or have a period of leave, the department will not fall apart because through delegating you have allowed someone to work closely with you on your projects.

So, stop seeing delegation as a way to lighten your workload. Instead see delegation as part of your role as a manager to improve the team’s time management and to develop your staff.

Tips for successful delegation:

  • Give a finite task that has precise, achievable goals within a particular time frame
  • Explain clearly to your team what you require them to do and why
  • Offer them development and training to help them to achieve this goal
  • Be available to provide support during the process and feedback afterwards

Delegation in academic life:

Successful scholars take on many tasks to boost their CV at the start of their career. After about 5 years they realise that they have accumulated so many roles that they are becoming overwhelmed. Sharing out your responsibilities not only helps you to improve your own working life, but also offers opportunities to others to develop their own career portfolios.

Of course, you are required to complete a certain workload for your department (decided by departmental management to ensure parity among colleagues) and this work is often not in your remit to delegate out to others. However, you do have some leeway.

The roles that can be shared out are: acting as reviews editor or editor of a journal; being secretary or chair of a society. Single lectures or seminars can also be offered to other staff members for their own teaching development and to enhance student experience.

Organising large projects such as running conferences or developing funding bids are also good ways of practising delegation. Also by gathering a strong team around you and sharing the workload, you have more chance of success.

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