Do you sometimes end up doing tasks that others should be doing, leaving yourself less time to focus on your own priorities? If a member of your team comes to you with a query or a problem, do you hear yourself saying, ‘Leave it with me’ or ‘I’ll get back to you’, even if the other person is actually responsible for getting the task done? If this sounds like you, then here are the top ten tips to help you give them back their own work and allow you to do more of yours:
- If you are a team leader or supervisor, set aside time when the members of your team can come to you. This doesn’t mean you are inaccessible at other times, but that this is their quality time to iron out issues and bring you up to date with progress. If you don’t hold a responsibility for others, make sure you slot any problem solving into your schedule for when it is convenient for you.
- Wake up! and hear yourself saying, ‘I'll deal with it later’ or ‘I'll get back to you on this.’ Either of these phrases mean you will do someone else’s job for the person. Team members will also come to rely on you to solve all their problems. This may make you feel valuable, or even indispensable, but the downside is that your own work will take a back seat.
- Learn to say, ‘What have you tried already?’ or ‘What do you think would work?’ or ‘What would you suggest?’ instead. This way you encourage them to think for themselves and begin the process of empowering them to solve their own problems.
- If necessary, ask for a couple of alternative solutions to verify they have thought through the problem and best outcomes.
- Ask for their recommendation to deal with the situation. This will help make them feel valued in their contribution. Next time around they’ll be more likely to do this first, saving you time.
- Set a check-up date if required (see 1 above) so that you can give further guidance if necessary or praise their resolution of the issue.
- Empower them to find a solution before emailing or telling you of the problem. Do this regularly with them so they know you want to find ways to move things forward rather than listen to them unload all their gripes, issues and problems on you.
- Tell other colleagues who besides you in your team they can go to for specific queries and work. They will eventually learn to trust other people’s knowledge and develop a ‘can do’ attitude.
- Encourage the members of your team to go direct to others rather than through you for information or to negotiate solutions.
- Remember that if you do say ‘Leave it with me’, the problem becomes yours. It will be added to your own list of things to do. If you don’t do it quickly enough, the team member then chases you for the answer and the job roles become reversed!
Des Whitehorn is the Training Principal of Zee Associates (www.zee-associates.co.uk). She can be contacted on 01825 733621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.