Why the buy-back jeopardises your leadership

March 23rd, 2022

Done well, delegation allows you to tap into your potential as well as that of your team. 

However, if you have tried delegating to your team before and it hasn’t worked out so well you may be reluctant to do so again. You may have had to send work back for them to re-do it which made them resentful. Redoing it yourself makes you resentful. Let’s face it, it would have been easier and faster to do it yourself in the first place. You may feel like you are falling into a vicious cycle of reacting, redoing and responding – something that is typical of those in a middle management role.
When you step into a leadership role and begin to delegate, there are a couple of areas that may trip you up and limit the effectiveness of what you want achieved.

This is when you buy back the task you thought you had delegated. You say things like:

  • ‘I’ll check with…’ Involving someone else and slowing things down.
  • Let me think about it…’ This takes the onus off the person to think any further about the task.
  • ‘Leave it, I’ll…’ Completely taking it back off their hands, you end up doing it anyway.

Put in LIMBO
This is where you halt progress. You say things like:

  • ‘Send me something on it…’ Which means that person must draft up a plan and send it to you and then wait for your response!
  • ‘Why don’t you check with…’ When you tell someone to check with someone else, this slows down progress and can also mean they get mixed messages from that other person.
  • ‘See me later about…’ Which tells them that they can’t really do much until they have checked with you later.

This means the delegation fails. You have either taken the task back or you have slowed down progress. 

Setting each person up for success to do their role well, and giving them the confidence to take on more and different work, is crucial.
Delegating is about trust. If trust is in place, in terms of their capability, you will feel comfortable delegating. If that trust isn’t in place, or you don’t have enough evidence of their capability, the ‘Buy Back’ and the ‘Put in Limbo’ scenarios come into play.
Knowing someone’s level of capability can be tricky. The person may be capable, but you don’t yet have evidence of it. What do you need to hear and see to believe that this person can do the job?
Focus on understanding each team member's capability - once you do, you can start stretching that capability.
When you use delegation the right way productivity increases, team engagement and collaboration increases, and the team take can on extra responsibility. This is leading, which requires new skills, so be prepared to become a learner again.

Click HERE if you would like to download a 2 Chapter sample of my new book Level Up.

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