Why Delegation Is So Hard For IT Managers To Do

by drjim on December 9, 2010

Delegation Is Like Running In A Relay Race – You've Got To Give It Up Sometime

Delegation Is Like Running In A Relay Race – You’ve Got To Give It Up Sometime

Congratulations on becoming an IT manager. If you thought that you didn’t have enough time to get all of your work done before you became a manager, it’s not going to become any easier now. If you try to do it all yourself, you are going to fail. It’s time to try a different way to get things done – delegating.

But I Can Do It All Myself…

Let’s be frank here for just a moment. Yes, with a little luck you CAN do all of the work that needs to be done in your department. However, that’s not why your company picked you to become a manager. Your role as a manager is (here it comes) to manage your staff in order to accomplish far more than you could possibly hope to accomplish by yourself.

What this means is that instead of doing all of the work yourself, you are going to have to allow your staff to do the work that needs to be done. What you need to start doing is delegating work to your staff.

Delegation of work means that you are going to assign a specific task that you are responsible for to a member of your team. The person that you assign the work to needs to agree to complete it. Not only are you assigning the work, but you are also assigning the accountability for completing the assignment to that member of your team.

Here’s an important point: you can delegate accountability, but you can’t delegate responsibility. That means that although another member of your team may actually end up doing the work, at the end of the day your management will still be looking to you in order to make sure that the work gets done.

Delegating Is Good: The Benefits For You

Quick question for you: just what the heck are you supposed to be doing with your time now that you are an IT manager? It turns out that you are not really supposed to be doing IT work – that’s for your team to work on. You are supposed to be spending your time doing manager things like: planning, controlling expenses, doing business planning, getting funding and people, and dealing with staff issues.

I’m willing to bet that you currently have too much work to do. That clearly shows that you need to become a better delegator. By assigning work to your staff, you’ll take it off of your plate and reduce your overall stress level.

One of the benefits of delegating that most IT managers don’t take the time to realize is that it is exactly what your staff wants you to do. By delegating tasks to your staff, you are telling your team that you trust them to get the work done correctly and on time. This feeling of trust is a two-way street and the stronger that it is, the better your team will function.

Additionally, everyone on your team has career aspirations. In fact, someday they’d all like to have your job. Hopefully, when that day comes, you will have been promoted to a higher position (CIO?). By giving members of your team the ability to show how well they take directions and can complete work, you have a great way to evaluate them and determine who you will recommend to take over your position once you’ve moved on.

What All Of This Means For You

The good IT managers are the ones who can get the most work done. The bad ones are the ones who try to do everything themselves and end up getting nothing done. In order to be successful, you are going to have to get good at delegating the work that needs to be done to your team.

It is difficult for us IT folks to let go, but we have to. By delegating work that you could do yourself to your team, you accomplish several things at the same time. Asking members of your team to complete projects for you allows you to develop a feeling of trust between you and your team. It also gives you a way to evaluate the work performance of members of your team so that you’ll know who to recommend for promotions when the day comes.

It’s not easy to give up control over how work gets done, but it is a fundamental part of being an IT manager. The better that you get at delegating work (and making sure that it gets done correctly, on time), the more successful you will be as an IT manager.

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

Question For You: What IT manager tasks do you think should never be delegated?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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?

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