‘We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone; whatever happens is a result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something’ −
Sandra Day O’Connor
Over the past few years, I have seen quite a few of my ideas come to life. I am naturally quite an independent person and generally tend to work alone. For some time, this worked for me but as the projects grew bigger, I quickly realized that I could not do it all alone. That was the easy part; the hard part was figuring out how to let others in. Through time and experience, there are a few lessons that I learnt about delegation.
The bigger picture
A project can be likened to a jigsaw puzzle that comprises many parts that all need to seamlessly come together. This is a crucial stage as it helps the team leader to identify the skills that are required to execute the project. It is also important to know the overall vision of the project. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’
Life is filled with many uncertainties but if one knows and understands why we want to accomplish something; we are better equipped to see the project through to execution. Communicating the vision of the project is essential to ensuring that the team members feel empowered to execute their roles without being micromanaged.
Assign according to strengths
A team is made up of various members that exhibit different strengths and weaknesses. I am very aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I communicate these to my team members from the onset so that they are encouraged to identify their own inherent traits. The use of personality tests is very useful to gain a better understanding of your team members. This is not cast in stone and needs to be continually reassessed to ensure that the team member is positioned rightfully in the project.
This by far is the hardest part of delegation, but a very crucial one. Your team needs to know what they have done well and where they can improve. At the inception of a project, I generally have weekly meetings with team members and ask them to tell me about what they have enjoyed and what they have struggled with. I also allow them to do a 360-degree review where they are free to give me feedback about my performance, particularly in my communication skills regarding expectations.
Keep it moving
There are two important lessons that I have learnt in this process of realising a vision/dream:
- Initiate! People to do not enter a bus that is not moving. Put the key into the ignition, start driving and along the road, people will flag you down to enter,
- Anticipate change in the team dynamics! The people who board your bus will at some point want/need to disembark as they take a different route. Stop, let them disembark and with a cheerful spirit and keep it moving, knowing full well that others will flag you down soon.
Wadzanai Mabuto CA(SA)
Senior Lecturer in the Department of Accounting at UJ