If I’m Delegating, Why Do I Still Feel Overwhelmed?

Aug 19, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

You finally took the plunge and delegated responsibility for all of the major initiatives your company wanted to achieve this year.  It was hard, but you realized that to grow, you had to let go.

You wanted your business to grow beyond you.

After hiring or promoting some key employees to management positions, you gave each one a project that matched their area.  Of course, things keep coming up operationally too.  You’ve become much better at referring the issues back to the manager.

You were told that would empower them to rise up if you supported them rather than handling stuff yourself.

You are doing great at this leadership thing.  Really!  But now you are probably wondering why you are still running around like crazy.

If I’m Delegating, Why Do I Still Feel Overwhelmed?

Recently, I was talking to a client who has a really great leadership team.  Their company is growing a lot.  He is investing in his team.  He is delegating.  Yet, he was still feeling overwhelmed.

As we discussed it, he described a week of following up with every person on the team for each initiative or key task that had to happen.  Routinely he would forget to follow-up on any given task.  When he did, he would kick himself if it wasn’t done, rather than hold the manager responsible.

He felt like if he had forgotten, it wasn’t right to hold the manager responsible for forgetting.

How Can One Boss Keep Up With Everyone’s Projects?

There is one of him and many of them.  As you can imagine, it is much more difficult for him to keep up with 5 -7 people’s responsibilities than for each of them to keep one boss informed.

We discussed a plan to hold his team responsible not only for the initiative and area of responsibility, but for keeping him, the owner, informed proactively.

You may be reading this and think that the owner must be a micro-manager, but he really isn’t.  He just felt responsible for everything since it is his business.

Bring The Updates To You

Here are some suggestions for you that may help you lead, and manage the entire company, without chasing everyone down.

  1. Discuss your expectations with each manager.  Explain to them the situation described above.  The company is growing and that is why you have hired experienced managers to help you grow it.  Your expectation is that they will proactively keep you informed.  You can remind them that it is still your responsibility and you are always there to help, but you need to know what is going on to be able to help effectively.
  2. Set up routine reporting in advance.  Have a set time and format that you want your managers to report on key initiatives.  Remind them that the report is due whether the progress is good or bad.  You can’t get them help if you don’t know that they need it.
  3. Meet regularly and consistently with each manager.  Whether it is weekly or monthly, depending on the manager’s experience, have a set time and day that you will regularly meet and try to keep this meeting as sacred as possible.  If you miss the meeting, the manager will quit being prepared for it.  Plus, if your key people know that they have a regular time to meet with you, they will save minor issues until the meeting.  This will help both of your productivity during the week.
  4. Hold them accountable for surprises.  I was always more upset if I was not communicated to proactively then I was if we were struggling to accomplish an objective.  If I know about an issue, I can help or find other resources to assist.  If I don’t know, we all fail.
  5. Provide a lot of feedback.  If you receive a report, read it.  Act on it or follow-up with the manager if something in the report requires feedback.  The worst thing you can do is let the reports stack up on your desk and seem uninformed if your employee asks you about it.  Believe me, I know this one.  Sometimes it is hard to keep up with the reports and meetings when you are busy.  Plan your requests accordingly.  Set the schedule and reporting to a level that you are informed and available.

Create Progress Not Just Activity

What you will find if you employ these methods is that you become the hub.  Activity continues around you smoothly and continuously and you become a conduit for the manager’s success.

If you keep chasing everyone down, the pattern looks more like a rollercoaster.  Activity only happens when you are touching it.  This is difficult to sustain and in the end you don’t make a lot of progress.

Delegation is the first step.  These last few steps will get your entire organization moving forward and rolling smoothly!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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