Today I'm super excited to discuss a topic that every independent school leader needs to know: Delegation!
Why is this important?
Because as school leaders, we're usually incredibly driven and used to doing things "our" way.
But we're also swamped and never seem to have time for the important high-level strategy tasks that we are vital to our schools.
Yet when we delegate (or think we've delegated) something to a team member, we're often doing it all wrong.
Then we get frustrated because they're not "doing it right." So we give up and put the task back on our plate.
Sound familiar? Yep, I see it all the time!
So here's some tips for successfully delegating tasks to your team.
The start of training yourself to delegate is to listen to your team's ideas and feedback.
Ask your team about what they think about this project or initiative. Then sit back and keep your mouth closed. Because often you'll hear some really creative ideas come forward.
And if they've got a great solution to something and are passionate about taking the lead, let them! This is a great opportunity to delegate.
When you give someone ownership of a project they've helped come up with, it keeps them invested in the process. It makes them feel valued.
And when they're invested and feel valued, they'll take responsibility for the outcome of the project (and take it off your plate!).
One of the biggest mistakes when delegating is to tell team members exactly what they should be doing. And then when they come to you with questions, it's answering the questions immediately.
The problem is that you're teaching team members to rely on you to tell them what to do. This is not delegation and it'll keep this project and task on your plate forever!
We want to train team members to take ownership of the project and task and this means they need to come to you with answers to the question they want to ask.
What does this look like?
Let's say you've delegated planning the meeting agendas to Jane. Jane emails you and says, "what should I include on the March meeting agenda?"
Our natural inclination is to reply with a list of topics to include on the meeting agenda. However, this is just keeping the task on your plate and it's not teaching Jane to own the project.
Instead you teach your employees to come to you with solutions. So Jane would email you saying, "I believe that x, y, and z should be on the March agenda because of this reason. Is this correct?" This is teaching Jane to come up with solutions.
Soon she'll rely less and less on you for confirming her solutions because she's asking herself for the solution before coming to you.
Sometimes I'll work with a team and notice that their leader is incredibly hard on anyone who makes mistakes.
This is a huge red flag for teams. If an employee doesn't feel like they can make mistakes occasionally, they're going to play it safe. They're not going to try new things and they're going to be asking you to check over their work all the time.
It's a delegation disaster!
Great leaders let their employees make mistakes. They let them produce "less than perfect" work. Because they know if they micro-manage the work, it'll always be on their plate.
And they know that everybody has to make mistakes to learn a new task or take on a new initiative.
I mean Einstein made like a million mistakes before his invention worked. Success is built on many failures, many mistakes.
So as you're delegating to your team members remember that they 1) may never do the task "as good as you" and 2) they're going to make mistakes along the way.
Now, of course, if an employee is making tons of mistakes and isn't learning from them then that's a completely different matter.
But if you've got a good team and you need to delegate things off your plate then you need to let them do things their way (not yours!) and make mistakes.
There's nothing worse than having someone looking over your shoulder. It's nearly impossible to get anything done, much less produce something of quality.
That's exactly what I see happen at schools when leaders delegate tasks or projects to employees. They hover. They want to see every move the employee makes, every letter that goes out, every email sent, every post produced.
It's exhausting for the employee and the leader!
So what's the solution?
It's checking in but not hovering. It's checking in the first few times to make sure things aren't going out with errors and then it's backing off to see how they perform without you checking in.
Now you may say, "how do I know if what they're doing is working?"
And that's where weekly meetings come into play. Your employees can report out pre-determined benchmarks to ensure they're on track to meeting goals, completing a task, etc.
So hold off on hovering and instead set aside time to check in and support your employees. You'll both be happier and less stressed!
Want to learn more? Watch this video and then let me know one thing you're going to delegate to your team this week.
Founder, Easy School Marketing
P.S. Connect with me on LinkedIn - I'd love to hear about your favorite tips!