The Middle Manager

Surviving & Thriving as a Leader


One of the things new managers – especially technology managers – have trouble with is delegating work to their staff. It is difficult for them to let go of the idea that they need to trust others to make good decisions. They’re used to doing things themselves and they simply can’t let go. If they’ve previously worked with the same staff as a peer, it can be especially difficult for them to hand out assignments. 

There are two types of delegation – tasks and goals.  Managers simply delegate tasks; leaders delegate goals. The difference is one of trust.  A canstockphoto12643947delegated task might be telling an employee to fix a computer; a delegated goal would be assigning someone the job of finding out why a device keeps failing.  In one instance is a ‘go fix it’ and the other is a much broader ‘find out why it keeps breaking.’ 

That’s not to say a leader won’t occasionally have to delegate tasks.  There will always be circumstances where task delegation is necessary. The point is that a leader is also comfortable trusting his staff to work unsupervised.

So how do you delegate a goal? First, determine what the goal actually is, and be sure to be very clear what the outcome needs to be, and how it relates to the overall strategic vision of the business. Work with the employee to establish how progress would be measured; it might be either a objective or subjective measure, or both.

The important thing is to work closely with the employee and agree on the approach.  Arrange to have regular meetings to monitor progress.  Use the meetings to help overcome roadblocks and problems, and correct the direction as necessary.

It can be a challenge, but delegation is not only necessary but a vital part of being a leader.

%d bloggers like this: