There is a difference in management and leadership. Leadership is the ability to create and maintain vision through influence. It is absolutely vital to the health of a company to have great leadership, but hand-in-hand with strong leaders is great management. Management is the ability to grasp the goals and vision of leadership and properly execute them. The role of a manager is essential to the day-to-day function of a business, and when done well, can propel the company towards their goals. It doesn’t matter how great the overall leadership of the company is, if it is not matched by a functional management team, the leaders’ vision and goals cannot be reached. As a leader, you need to both be a good manager and have good managers on your team. Effective managers don’t simply dictate tasks to employees, they utilize tools that create a healthy workplace for employees.
One of the biggest issues I find in workplace management is improper delegation. Many managers have a goal in mind, but either cannot communicate or do not trust employees to properly execute the task, so they take on more than they can handle. This leads to stress and burnout that both negatively affects you and the employees under your leadership. It is easy when we are overwhelmed by an inexorable amount of work to take out our stress and frustration on others, or simply ignore their needs due to business. The best way to combat this is to delegate this extra work to your employees.
Your job is not to DO tasks for employees, it is to FACILITATE. If you have your hands in every single work project, something is very wrong. Facilitating a task looks like giving your employees all of the instructions, training, and tools they need to do a job well on their own. It’s about setting them up for success. If you are always completing tasks for your employees instead of teaching them how to do it, you are communicating to them that they cannot be trusted or they are not fully able to do their job. This is disempowering and ineffective management. Of course there is always concern when handing off tasks, but if you show your employees that you trust and respect them, it will encourage a greater motivation and rate of success.
The best way to ensure that task delegation will lead to accurate completion of the work is through strong communication and playing to employee strengths. When handing off a task it is your job to make sure that you have communicated both exactly what is expected and what the desired outcome is. Delegation without proper communication is like dumping a puzzle on someone’s desk without the picture, it can get completed, but it will be much quicker and easier if the person knows what they are putting together. So, make sure that as you hand off a project your employee is aware of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI). KPI’s are guidelines that communicate exactly what is needed for optimal performance. If these are communicated ahead of time through training, checklists, or simply clear directions on your end, then it will prevent the question “Am I doing this right?” And ensure the confidence of the employer in her work.
Another important aspect of delegation is the awareness of your employees strengths. I said that improper communication was like dumping a puzzle on someone’s desk without the picture; now imagine that you dumped a puzzle on the desk of someone who was colorblind. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be to both you and the person completing the puzzle? That is what it’s like when we randomly assign tasks without playing to our employees strengths. That puzzle might be solved much quicker and much more enjoyably by someone who likes doing puzzles, right? This is part of what it means to set up our employees for success. When we assign tasks based on strengths, it not only increases the likelihood of success, it will create passion for the project. An employee will be much more likely to enjoy a task if it is within their wheelhouse, and when they are enjoying a job, you can almost ensure it will be a job well done.
So how do you figure out your employee’s strengths? There are lots of tools you can use. The easiest might simply be to survey them when they begin working for the company and ask them what they feel their strengths are, as well as paying attention to how quickly and effectively they complete certain tasks. There are other great tests online to help you get a clearer gauge for the people in your workplace such as: DISC assessment, Strength Finders test (paid), Myers Briggs, and The Values tests. Having a clearer grasp of the personalities, passions, and abilities of your employees will create a more positive and effective work environment.