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This article was published on August 29, 2014

When should you delegate your tasks? A helpful guide for control freaks

When should you delegate your tasks? A helpful guide for control freaks
Ilya Pozin
Story by

Ilya Pozin

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Copl Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of Internet TV platform Pluto TV, digital marketing agency Coplex, and social greeting card company Open Me (acquired by Rowl). Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, Ilya also has columns appearing on Forbes, Inc., and LinkedIn

Ilya Pozin is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and investor. He is the founder of online video entertainment platform Pluto.TV, social greeting card company Open Me, and digital marketing agency Ciplex.

Are you killing your employees or coworkers with your controlling behavior? Delegating doesn’t come easy to many of us, but micromanaging rarely motivates people to work harder.

According to a survey from OfficeTeam, nearly one in two employees have worked for a bad boss at some point in their careers. The book What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do by Laura Stack actually discovered 75 to 80 percent of American workers suffer from micromanagement during their professional lifetimes.

While you might look at your lone wolf behavior as getting things done, your workers might see it much differently. If you always need to do everything, employees won’t feel trusted and will lack autonomy. 

Whether you’re heading a department or running a startup, few of us can afford to truly go it alone. Yet it can be hard to let go, especially you feel like the fate of your company is in the balance. 

For those “control enthusiasts” who like things done a certain way, here’s a helpful guide to determining when you should delegate to your capable staff, and when you need to work things out yourself: 

Just do it: It takes too long to explain

If explaining how to do a task will take forever but you can do it in minutes, it might be worthwhile to just breeze through the work. If you’re under a tight deadline and you know the project like the back of your hand, it’s likely you’re the best one to do the work.

Don’t feel bad about taking control, and let your staff know it’s a time-crunch issue, not a matter of hoarding knowledge.

Delegate: Employees need to learn 

Of course, it’s all too easy to use that excuse to do everything, especially in high-pressure startups. Carve out some time from your day or week and dedicate it to teaching members of your staff to do the tasks you need to rid from your to-do list.

This will make your employees feel as if they are learning valuable new skills, and it will free up your week to focus on higher priority items. 

Just do it: You’re afraid of a challenge

There are always a few projects you would rather delegate, even if you’re usually a fan of control. If you’re a little too eager to give away work, stop and ask yourself why that is.

If the reason is because the work would be scary or challenging, dive in feet first and face your fears. It’s only through rising to meet challenges that we grow in both our personal and professional lives, and you need to be able to meet any obstacle that comes your way. 

Delegate: You can do it in your sleep

The flip side of this – work that you could do with your hands tied behind your back. This work is no longer challenging you, it’s no longer making you into a better professional, and it’s probably taking up far too much of your day. Delegate to your capable team, and let them learn a new skill while you go off to tackle a different challenge.

Just do it: You’re the expert

Sometimes, projects require an expert touch and a little finesse. These are the projects you should take point on.

However, sharing your expertise is an important part of building a team that can truly support you and your vision. Even if you need to be the person calling the shots, invite other team members into the process to watch how you work. Shadowing can help your employees learn new skills, and can even mean you can share the workload the next time around. 

Delegate: You need a fresh set of eyes

In the business world, it’s unfortunately all too easy to get stuck doing things the way things have always been done. As much as we like to talk about innovation and disruption, it’s far too easy to find a method that works and then stick to it.

If you find yourself in a rut, it’s the perfect time to bring on a fresh set of eyes. 

Invite employees who haven’t been working on the project, or even those who work in different departments, to share their ideas. Encourage them to think outside the box, and if possible, don’t share the way things have always been done. You might just be surprised how a fresh perspective can bring renewed creativity to your project. 

Letting go isn’t easy, especially when you might have some controlling tendencies. If you want to create a positive company culture and retain great talent, however, you’ll have to learn to delegate.

By delegating tasks, you show your team you believe in their ability to contribute, to learn, and to grow. You also inject your company with fresh ideas likely to help your organization succeed.

How do you determine whether you should delegate? Share in the comments!

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