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Dealing with the fear of letting go

From: Delegating Tasks to Your Team

Video: Dealing with the fear of letting go

As I mentioned in the previous video, the reason a manager violates the agreed-upon autonomy is usually due to a fear of letting go. This is quite common and something that most managers struggle with at some point or another. I know I certainly have over the course of my career. Sometimes it's not even conscious. The manager truly believes that she or he is just helping out and doesn't see the bigger ramifications of what's happening. There are a few common sources that I want to highlight for you. Number one, thinking that it's easier or faster to do it yourself.

Dealing with the fear of letting go

As I mentioned in the previous video, the reason a manager violates the agreed-upon autonomy is usually due to a fear of letting go. This is quite common and something that most managers struggle with at some point or another. I know I certainly have over the course of my career. Sometimes it's not even conscious. The manager truly believes that she or he is just helping out and doesn't see the bigger ramifications of what's happening. There are a few common sources that I want to highlight for you. Number one, thinking that it's easier or faster to do it yourself.

This one is tricky because it usually is easier and faster to do it yourself. It takes a lot of work to do the proper phases of delegation and then support another person's learning process. But this time is an investment that will pay off later. As a manager, your time should be spent on higher-level thinking and projects. In order to use your time effectively, you have to delegate some mid- to low-level items. This will make your workload more appropriate for your experience and credentials. The second cause is worrying that your staff are already overburdened and cannot take on anything more.

I have struggled with this myself, but it has helped me to remember that employees are most satisfied and motivated when they get opportunities to grow. If your staff is busy, my guess is that they are also doing things they should not be going or that could be delegated. If they need to free up space in their workload to take on new delegations, have them engage in the same analysis process you did. If some of this work can be delegated, you maybe able to hire entry-level staff or even student interns. Sometimes teams respond to an overburden of work by just taking on more and more.

This is not sustainable, and it leads to burning out your best people. If there is too much work for the number of people you have, find a way to quantify that. You want to be able to either request more staff or eliminate some tasks. The third reason people struggle with micromanagement is fear of losing control or importance. Delegation involves the loss of direct control, and this may cause some managers great discomfort. I know that I have struggled with this one because I have high standards for professionalism, and I worried that another person's efforts just won't be up to par.

This is especially challenging when the quality of their work will reflect on me. The problem with this mind-set is that it keeps me buried in tasks that others could and should be doing. For me, I have worked on this by focusing on the goal and reminding myself that there are several viable paths for a satisfying outcome. As long as I know the person can deliver the results, it helps me to let go of needing to control the way that they get there. Another aspect of this for some managers is that they worry that letting go of some tasks will endanger their own security in the organization.

In reality the opposite is true. The more you can delegate to others, the more you are open to take on new responsibilities and projects. In addition, you demonstrate your great management skills by helping your team grow professionally. The final source is lacking trust in your team to do good work. This one is probably the most important, because if you don't trust your staff, there are bigger problems that need to be addressed. If you don't trust an employee, explore this further. If it's about ethics or judgment, consider whether this person is the best fit your team.

If you don't trust their skill level, you can certainly build trust by using the four-phase model of delegation. This process will help you gather more information about their skill and then you can help them grow in that area. If trust is lacking, I recommend that you make this the focus of your work over the next few months. Trust between managers and employees is one of the key ingredients to successful work environments. As you can see, shifting your micromanagement will help your employees grow to their maximum potential. Look for some of the causes and implement those solutions.

If you find that you continue to struggle with micromanagement, don't hesitate to seek the support of a career coach or personal counselor. Remember that the growth of your team depends on your ability to let them try.

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Delegating Tasks to Your Team

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Britt Andreatta
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