Being your boss: A view from the other side of the desk #2

pins delegating pins

Debbie Pye is our Application Adviser and has written this excellent series of three blogs looking at the viewpoints of business leaders hiring graduates and placement students. The last part in the series will be published next Tuesday. You can find the first blog entry here.

2. How to help your boss be a great delegator

In the first Being Your Boss blog, we looked at the value both to you and your manager of being effective at asking for and receiving feedback. Now let’s see how and why you can/should help your boss to delegate tasks and responsibilities to you.

The problem that many of my leadership coaching clients have is that they are just too nice! They feel guilty about “handing things off” to their staff as they know that they are busy too. But there are other reasons why managers don’t delegate well:

  • They don’t think other people can do something as well as they can (perfectionists)
  • They like to know in minute detail literally everything that’s going on in their team/department (micro-managers)
  • They’ve had bad experiences in the past where they have delegated something important and it’s gone pear-shaped (bruised and nervous)
  • They have never been trained in how to delegate effectively (uneducated)

So what’s in it for you if your manager delegates effectively to you?

Well for a start it’s much more pleasant working for a boss who isn’t stressed out because they are feeling overwhelmed with work – they are more likely to have time for you when you need help or mentoring. In addition, if your manager has weeded out their “to do list” they will be able to focus on developing your team as a whole. Everyone prefers working in a team that has a great “rep” in the organisation. But ultimately if you are given new and stretching tasks by your manager this is going to be a great opportunity for you to develop your skills, add to your portfolio of experience and enhance your CV.

So how can you help your boss delegate to you?

My colleague coach and author Simon Tyler writes about the art of delegation in his book “The Simple Way”. In the section on the “3-4-3” strategy he coaches leaders to delegate the three things that drain them, or about which they prevaricate. This frees up time and energy to focus on the top three aspects of their role that they love and at which they are uniquely brilliant. Watch him explaining it here. The really cool thing about this is that your boss’s bottom three tasks – which drain them- could well be things that are in your top three! It really is a win-win because you get to stretch yourself, try new things, meet new contacts in the business which you wouldn’t have done if your manager had tried to do it all themselves.

So once you are settled in your lovely new job or placement, exercise that empathy muscle again and think about what your boss might have on their plate which you could take on. Then help them delegate it to you effectively (avoiding the micromanager/bruised and nervous/uneducated approach) by:

  1. Agreeing very explicitly what you will be doing; specific outcomes/deliverables etc. How will you know when you have done enough/what is expected?
  2. Agree together when it should be completed by – ideally both of you make a note.
  3. Agree together how you should tackle it – on your own? With others? Big picture approach? Or lots of detail? You get the picture.
  4. Finally make sure you have agreed “check-in” times in the diary so that you can discuss progress, problems and questions.

One day when you are in charge of your own team you will have this delegation thing sorted…unlike many of my clients!

 Next time the “View from the other side of the desk” looks at how to help your boss motivate you and keep you in their business.



Posted in: Advice, Career Development, Tips & Hints


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