How to delegate from a growth mindset

One of my interview questions for a job was about dealing with many projects simultaneously and multitasking and my first suggestion was delegation. Interesting enough, I did not know how hard that was at that time, how delegation is a lot about giving up control, about trust and about growing another person, and not simply just handing over assignments and receiving them completed, more about personal relations and less about reporting templates, monitoring and control.

I see that today and, often, I do find myself in situations where I would do things faster than I can delegate them. Delegation is an investment, it is more than clearing up your to-do list and more about creating space in your schedule for complex tasks and new opportunities.

Here are the 3 most often road blocks in the way of efficient delegation and the growth mindset shifts which will help you be a better delegator:

1 “Only I can do it” > turns into > “Don’t put limitations on people’s intelligence

Intelligence is not fixed. Our mind is like a muscle and, just like any other muscle, we can exercise it and develop it over time. Although your brain might not grow physically, you develop new neural networks when you challenge yourself or learn something new.

So, although you already have the skills to do the task and the delegate does not (yet), it does not mean that they cannot do it or learn how to do it.

2 “It is faster if I do it” > turns into > “Embrace challenges

On the short term, you are probably right. On the long term though, you could be clearing your schedule for new opportunities and thus gaining a lot of time. Moreover, a growth mindset means embracing challenges, not avoiding them. This way not only you help the growth of the delegate, but you grow yourself, cause it takes a special kind of skill to be able to teach someone to do what you do.

3 “The delegate has to do it the exact same way” > turns into > “Learn from criticism

Once you have moved passed the first 2 steps and delegated the task, you need to communicate the desired outcome, if needed help the delegate form a plan, but stay out of the process.

The first reason for which we fear people doing things differently than we do, is that we see it as a criticism to our way of doing it, it’s like they are saying “you were doing it wrong”.

I challenge you to be curious and see this as an opportunity to learn, to discover new ways, maybe better ways. Usually people are not out to get us, they just think in a different manner, and that is ok as long as we get the objective done. So start by giving the delegate the outcome, starting with the end in mind, and let them build the way up.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

General Patton

Delegation is never an easy process. When you get to the point of having to delegate, you already built your way up, so this exercise of giving up control could mean shaking up your core. If you still struggle with the questions above, start the process consciously and intentionally and ask yourself “what am I unwilling to delegate? Make a list of tasks and identify the best person in your organization – not you – to take on this project or task and delegate the task”.

We usually get to delegation when we are no longer able to complete the tasks on time. Start the process before you have to, before you have pressure of deadlines, thus when you do have to do it, you are more prepared internally.

And always keep in mind that the only point to delegating something is if it frees you for things that create greater value for your company.

How do you delegate? Do you feel fear in doing it? Do you still avoid it or do you embrace the opportunity?