I had a long day of coaching, training, and podcasting and I was looking forward to unwinding at home that evening, believe it or not, by getting out and doing some yard work. Immediately after dinner, I told my wife and three kids, “I am going outside to mow the lawn.”
I changed into my yard work outfit, put my headphones in, fired up some Alan Jackson and started with some tree clipping. I was deep into it, sweating hard, and feeling very productive.
Then, my wife sent my 10-year-old son out to help me. I immediately felt a sinking feeling in my stomach…
“Now what,” I thought to myself. “I have to stop what I’m doing to get him involved? I am being so productive right now, this is going to really set me back.”
So, I ignored my son for a while. He went into the garage and fumbled with the weight set. Finally, it hit me. At the Engineering Management Institute, I spend a lot of my time coaching and training engineers on how to be more productive by delegating effectively. The biggest barrier that engineers and other professionals have when it comes to delegating is holding on to the tasks for too long. They take on the mentality of, “It will take me longer to show him or her how to do it. It will be faster if I just do it myself.”
You can get away with that mentality for a little while in your career, but if you really want to develop professionally and climb the ranks in your firm, you will have to let go of that philosophy and rigorously delegate every task that you shouldn’t be doing.
Once I realized that I was committing this cardinal sin of delegation, I stopped and thought about how productive it would be if my son mowed the lawn while I did the tree trimming. Obvious, right? I called him over, took literally five minutes to show him how to work the lawn mower, and set him on his way.
I worked close by to where he was working so I could keep an eye on him and help him empty the bag on the mower when it filled up.
While this is a simplistic story in nature, I feel that it is very analogous to an engineering manager and his or her team members. Yes, it is often easier and faster if you just do things yourself, initially, but if you teach your team members how to take on new roles and responsibilities, thereby allowing you to take on other leadership/game changing initiatives, you will see amazing growth in yourself, your team, and your firm.
Why not start today?
Please share any experiences or strategies in the comments below that you have found helpful in learning to delegate more effectively.
Our next session of the Engineering Management Accelerator online workshop which provides people skills training in a very accountable way for engineering professionals starts on January 26th. If you’re interested in enrolling some of your managers or aspiring managers, please contact our office at 201-857-2384. We also offer our Engineering Management Training Needs Assessment as an inexpensive first step in deciding on how to maximize your training spend and your people.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn here.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below on the things you do to avoid the cardinal sin of delegation.
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success