Last time, we started our series of New Year’s Resolutions for technical leaders with the admonition to work less. Today, I’ll suggest one way to make that happen.
When I was younger, I hated to delegate things. As a perfectionistic, workaholic, control freak, it is really hard to let go. However, the older I get, the more I’ve realized a few things.
The first is that I simply can’t do it all. The net effect of me trying to do it all is always worse than if I delegate some tasks out; even if those tasks aren’t dealt with at my (usually too) high standards. When I try to do it all, I end up spread too thin and things start falling apart. I over-work myself, which makes me tired, and when I get tired, I end up with a bad attitude. Eventually, I start blaming others for my inability to manage my time and my staff. It gets ugly quickly.
On the other hand, when I share the load, a lot more gets done. I do my tasks well, while staying more relaxed. Moreover, the people to whom I delegate feel valued and take pride in being able to contribute. Instead of ugly, this is quite beautiful.
For me, the best illustration of this is Christmas 2012. In 2011, I was mostly on my own, and I didn’t offload as much as I could have to others. This year, I offloaded a lot, and found that not only did I enjoy the process, my team was more engaged. Everyone felt like they contributed in significant ways to the end result, which was better than any of us could have accomplished on our own.
Could I have done some of those tasks better than my team did? Probably. But it doesn’t matter because in the big picture, the entire event came together better with everyone involved. And that’s what matters.
Oh, and instead of working 80 hours Christmas week (like I did last year), I put in about 55. That by itself made Christmas much more enjoyable.
Let go, delegate and give others the opportunity to be involved. You won’t regret it.