Often times we avoid certain conversations not because we don’t want to, but rather, because we don’t know how to. As a new manager, a conversation that you need to have with your direct reports is the development conversation.
For me, it was recently, when I was given an opportunity to manage an HR intern. I was very excited to have gotten this opportunity for the first time. I admit that I always wanted to see how it feels like to be a manager and manage people.
Honestly, it is NOT as easy as it looks. A common misunderstanding among leaders is that delegating is about giving away tasks you don’t want to do. Delegation is really a development conversation and is about understanding how to communicate what is expected, who owns what, and where you want to see members of your team grow.
When leaders delegate effectively, they are looking at what responsibilities are no longer the best use of their time and what skill gaps on their team can be closed.
Below are four best practices I learned during 6 weeks of Being a Manager to support having delegation conversations.
1. Manage Your To Do List
The first step for you as a new manager is to look at your to-do list. Chances are there are still some things you’re holding onto because either you love doing it, no one else knows how, you have no time to do it, or you don’t trust anyone to do it correctly. No matter what, if this job is not central to achieving your goals or supporting your team, it is no longer the best use of your time.
Write down what these different responsibilities are and begin to identify who you can delegate it to. Also look at the amount of time you save by letting someone else take ownership and now ask yourself: What can I do with this time?
2. Create a Common Language
The second step is to have the conversation with your direct reports, share that you want to delegate some new responsibilities and see if there is a mutual interest. Help yourselves by explaining common terminology to team members so that everyone has a mutual understanding of the decision making process on any given task.
Having a defined language is important because oftentimes when we delegate there can be misunderstanding about what tasks your direct report needs to keep you in the loop on and what responsibilities they can act on autonomously.
3. Help Your Team Members
As a new leader it can be tempting to want to be everything to everyone and the reality is that it is not sustainable. Have your team create accountability partners to keep each other on-track about things like time-management and deadlines. The reality is that when you delegate new responsibilities, those you lead will need to look at how they manage their schedules.
Encourage team members to create check-ins with one another and to share their progress. Through this simple step, you’ll probably even free up more time for yourself.
4. Listen and Learn
Many new managers want to make bold changes quickly to show that they’re in charge and it’s a bad idea. Resist this temptation and instead, take time to best understand your team members.
Obviously, you can’t please everyone, but saying I would love to get your input as I make plans for the future goes a long way in building positive relationships and open communication. In understanding what people’s goals, hang-ups, and challenges are can help them perform at a higher level, which will only serve to help you to be more successful.
Let team members know that you’re open to listening on an ongoing basis. Whether it’s having an open discussions or need your help, make sure your team members know when and how they can reach out to you.
I’ve found myself reflecting on what I’ve learned or at least what I think I’ve learned. So far, I’ve come to believe that managing people can be boiled down to a core set common of high-level goals:
- Make sure people have what they need to succeed.
- Help people get where they want to go.
- Take feedback. Make sure your team feels free to share their ideas, thoughts and suggestions. Let them know that they can walk up to you anytime and you will listen.
- Set clear expectations and help to meet them.
- Before delegating any task; tell them purpose, way to proceed, outcome and how will it benefit us.
Are you new to being a people leader? How do you delegate?
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