IT Managers Need To Spot The Warning Signs Of Poor Delegation

by drjim on December 16, 2010

Pay attention to the warning signs that you're not delegating enough…

Pay attention to the warning signs that you’re not delegating enough…

You can do it (all)! Well, not really. In fact the really good IT managers realize that they can’t do it all. However, most of us seem to forget this and find ourselves in an overload situation where we’ve got too much to do and just not enough time to do it. How can we tell when things are starting to go bad so that we can prevent it from happening – before it happens?

When Bad Things Happen To You

I’m willing to guess that no matter where you live, you have smoke detectors installed in your house. Why do you have them? So that in the case that there is a fire, the smoke detector will go off and you’ll get the warning that you need to get out of there.

What your career as an IT manager needs is the same thing: a poor delegation detector. This kind of detector would go off if you weren’t doing a good job of delegating your work to your team. It would give you a warning that something was wrong and would allow you to fix things before they got too bad.

I’m sorry, there’s no device that you can screw into the wall that will start to chirp if you are doing a bad job of delegating. However, there are a number of warning signs that, if noticed, you can take action on to correct before the damage is done.

Your in-box, or these days your email in-box, can serve as a poor delegation early warning device. If it’s always full and you don’t have enough time during the day to at least read every email, then clearly you have a problem. You need to redirect some of that email to members of your team. This can be done by delegating whatever the email is discussing to others to take care of.

Although we can hope that you are valuable to your company, maybe even uniquely valuable, there are actually very few tasks that “only you” can do. If you are finding yourself working extra hours on things that you’ve decided that nobody else can do, then you are wrong. You need to take another look at these types of tasks and delegate most if not all of them to your team members.

When Bad Things Happen To Your Team

Although some of the early warning signs of poor delegation will show up in your life, more of them will show up in how your team is performing. Your delegation is what feeds the team new assignments. Once you stop doing this well, the team will suffer.

One of the most common complaints that I hear from IT managers is that tasks that they believed that they had delegated are not being completed or they are not being done on time. There can be many different reasons for this, but more often than not what I find is that they’ve been poorly delegated – minimal description, unclear due date, etc.

How much your team will be able to accomplish has to do with how they feel. If you are doing a poor job of delegating work, then this is going to impact your team. Specifically, they are going to feel that they lack authority to perform tasks or even to complete assignments. Not only do you have to delegate your work to your team, but you also have to do it publicly so that everyone knows that the person doing the work is doing it for you.

One of the classic IT manager shortcomings shows up when yes, the work is delegated, but when the results are provided back to the manager he or she ends up either second guessing the conclusions that were reached or simply redoing the work that was done. This is a classic case of “do it the way that I would do it” instead of trusting your team to complete the task in their own way.

What All Of This Means For You

It’s not easy being an IT manager. For the first time you have to learn to let go and allow the other members of your team perform work that you know very well that you could do yourself. Learning to let go, to delegate your work, is a key IT manager skill.

Delegation is a skill that we all need to work at in order to do better. Being aware of the early warning signs that you are not doing a good job of delegating is first step in preventing small problems from becoming larger ones. Be aware that poor delegation skills will not only affect your job performance, but also how your team performs.

Making sure that you are able to detect when you are not doing a good job of delegation is a critical IT manager job skill. Take the time to be more aware of how effective you are being and both your team and your career will do better.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way that you’ve found to stay on top of all of that email that you get every day?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

How are you doing with managing your time? Nobody ever told you that being an IT manager was going to be this tough, did they? How did you spend your last day at work: a lot of phone calls (some completely worthless), a lunch meeting that may have been rescheduled at the last minute, work that is due soon, staff conflicts that only you can resolve, oh, and that budget thing is coming up again…

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