Mentoring Matters Recap: Helping a New Leader Delegate

Posted December 10, 2019 in Latest News & Insights, Member Spotlight

When a recently promoted member of your team struggles with delegation it can be challenging to move them from the role of ‘doer’ to the role of coach.  As leaders, we understand their temptation to dive in and complete tasks themselves in order to meet high standards and drive efficiency. They are often finding it difficult to balance the division of responsibilities and the quality of the outcomes.  We are tasked with helping them recognize the importance of giving their team opportunities to develop and grow by doing the work themselves.

We asked some of our Roundtable Mentors for their thoughts on dealing with this situation.  Here are some highlights from Laura Scheck, Director of Customer Growth Strategy at Scotiabank and Dr. Michael Doody, Director of Human Resources for Sprott Shaw College.

  • Outline what distinguishes success as an individual contributor versus success as a people leader.

Set the new context for them and explain that the output is not the only thing that matters, it’s about teaching others how to do things, setting expectations, coaching and following-up, which will then create space for new projects for them.

  • Highlight the importance of remembering there is usually more than just ‘one right way’ to do things.

By empowering their team members to do the work, they encourage diverse approaches to tasks that can benefit both the team and organization.

  • Focus them on the long-term wins of coaching their team members to develop and grow through the delegation of tasks.

The short-term time investment required to coach direct reports will set the stage for long-term gains and advantages. When employees are encouraged to learn by doing the work themselves, they build both confidence and motivation, which translates into increased employee engagement and productivity.

  • Mentor and support them in their new role through regular meetings and conversations.

Help this new leader develop increased self-awareness and begin to understand what may be causing their resistance to delegation. Let them know that you are committed to continually supporting them through their transition into this new leadership role.

  • Explain the importance of creating a safe environment for team members to take risks and make mistakes.

Allow employees to ask questions without judgement, make mistakes without retribution all while providing them with the information they need to set up for success.

  • Develop an awareness of each employee’s areas of strength and interest.

To grow their comfort level with delegating work, they can begin by developing a more in-depth understanding of their direct reports’ strengths and motivations. Having a detailed understanding of the individual skills and interests within the team will build their confidence by allowing for more strategic delegation decisions.

  • Create lines of communication with each member of the team that include working agreements with regular check-ins.

Set in place new communication structures and working agreements (e.g. milestones, check-in meetings) that provide opportunities for information sharing and coaching.

Helping a new leader develop effective delegation skills is an important task.  Start by helping them understand the positive impact delegation can have on themselves, their team and the organization. Continually model the coaching relationship you hope to see them adopt with their own direct reports.  This will provide them with an initial roadmap to follow as they begin to work out their delegation muscles as a new coach and leader.


Read their responses here:

Mentoring Matters – Michael Doody

Mentoring Matters – Laura Scheck


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