Nobody Does It Better, But You Still Need to Delegate

As a new manager, one of the critical skills that must be learned and embraced is delegation. Many new managers struggle with letting go of tasks and responsibilities that they are proficient in because they think these skills are what set them apart from their team members and got them their first management position.

When working with newly minted managers, Carly Simon’s famous song “Nobody Does it Better” often comes to my mind. Many new managers struggle with delegating because they have been performing the task so well for so long.  Letting go of comfortable tasks, though, is part of your role as a manager.

Learning To Let Go

Does this sound familiar to you? Are there tasks and responsibilities that you are currently doing that should be delegated?

I recently was working with a young and new manager who had recently been promoted to Operations Manager. Overnight he was given the responsibility to lead a team of seven. From the minute I started working with him, I would hear the phrase “I’m so busy” come out of his mouth often.

The question I always start with when coaching “reluctant delegators” is, “What do you want your role to be in 12 months?” And the obvious follow-up is, “What responsibilities will you need to change and additional knowledge gained to be successful in that new role?”

These two questions started him thinking into the future for the first time since he had taken on his new role. And as we got further into the conversation he started to identify tasks that he was currently doing that he should and could delegate. That was the easy part of the process.  The difficult part was identifying whom he could delegate to and what training was required before the task was delegated.

During the next coaching session he had identified whom each of the tasks was going to be given to, what training they were going to get, when he would know that they were ready to completely take on their new tasks, and when they were officially going to be responsible for the activity.

At the end of the process, he had identified enough responsibilities and tasks to delegate to free up an entire 12 hours a week. And what was he going to do with this “extra” time? Spend it leading and not doing. Now he had time to meet with his team members each month to review their progress and help with their development. He also had time to take on some significant projects that he had been reluctant to start because of his past time constraints. He was now truly leading and managing, and getting things done through others.

Five Steps to Effective Delegation

If you are in this position and want to be spending more time managing versus doing, I suggest you take these steps:
1.    Spend some time self-reflecting about those things you should stop doing, start doing, and doing more of in order to be a more effective and productive manager. If you’re unsure, ask your manager for feedback.
2.    Those stop items should then be prioritized.
3.    Determine whom you could delegate the responsibility to. Why do you think they are ready?
4.    Train those employees who aren’t ready before handing tasks over to them.
5.    Track and measure their progress, and provide them with the necessary feedback to make any necessary adjustments.

Remember, nobody does it better than you, but as a manager you need to delegate and start getting things done through others.

About the Author: Beth Armknecht Miller is CEO of Executive Velocity, a talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is also a Vistage Chair. She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. Beth is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA and is a Certified Managerial Coach. Her expertise has made her a sought-after speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications. Beth’s latest book on executive leadership, “Are You Talent Obsessed? Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high performers” was released in 2014. Read Beth’s blog at

photo credit: Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung) via photopin cc