Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Has anyone ever asked you to take on a task
or project and then hovered over you while you
did it? That can be so annoying! It is imperative
that leaders and managers learn to delegate
in the true sense of word. It means "to
entrust to another". By no means does being
hovered over embody the essence of trust.
As a leader or manager, you already know that
you need to delegate some aspects of your projects.
On the other hand, you are aware that your reputation
or credibility is on the line. Your promotion
may depend on it, so, naturally, you are reluctant
to keep your fingers out of the project.
No matter how difficult it seems, you must
think about the long-term relationships you
are creating. Those people who are working for
you to make that big impression are the same
people you are likely going to need again. If
you have explained the project accurately, emphasized
the need for the deadline to be met, and, you
have their agreement and understanding, your
job is to get on with the parts of the project
that only you can do. Trust your staff.
When you delegate a task, be sure to take enough
time in the initial conversation to assure yourself
that the person can, in fact, do the task. Then,
agree on the details and deadlines. Have regular
meetings for progress reports, questions and
support. That will eliminate concern for everyone.
But don't be watching over their shoulders every
minute. Your anxiety over the success of the
project will not be well-served by making everyone
else anxious through your micromanaging.
If you are the one being hovered over, here
are two questions to ask yourself: 1) Do you
believe you can do the task without supervision,
and 2) Do you understand the fear your project
If you are comfortable with the task and are
confident you can accomplish it without excessive
supervision, talk to your manager. You may want
to say, "I know this project is very important
to you. I want you to know that I can do this
for you and I can do it on time. I hope that
will free you up to focus on other aspects of
You'll often find that just bringing up the
underlying fear and giving it a name can change
the dynamics. By offering assurance in this
form, you have supported your manager without
complaining about the hovering. Be pro-active
and save both of you some irritation and anxiety.
Learning to delegate is one of the most difficult
things new managers can face. It feels like
giving away control and that can be daunting.
Front load the issue. Take the time to talk
out the project and make agreements about format,
style, timelines, and desired outcomes. Then,
take your fingers off!
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
All rights reserved.
Dr. Rhoberta Shaler solves
'people problems' at work by making it easier
to talk about difficult things. Dr. Shaler speaks
to, trains and coaches executives and entrepreneurs
worldwide in the communication skills essential
to creating powerful conversations that reduce
conflict & anger, build trust, and streamline
negotiation. She is the founder of the Optimize!
Institute in Escondido, CA. www.OptimizeInstitute.com