Overseeing your first project as a newly minted team leader can be an exciting step in your professional journey. However, those new to a leadership position may struggle initially to let go of tasks they’re accustomed to handling themselves, especially during their first forays into project management. However, learning how to delegate and manage without micromanaging are critical components of becoming a good leader.
So how can new leaders ensure they’re providing the support their team needs without overstepping boundaries or tackling tasks other roles within the team are better suited for? Below, members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share their best tips for new leaders who need guidance on overseeing projects and delegation without micromanaging their teams.
1. Determine which of your tasks are most critical.
Take time to focus on your most critical tasks early in the day, before the full swing of the day brings up distractions that can slow down your work. By doing this, you will be able to determine which tasks are most important. At the end of the day, anything you have not gotten to is likely something you can delegate to someone else. This is a natural way of determining priorities. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
2. Make two lists.
I often encourage leaders to draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side, write down all the things that you are doing that others could do. On the right side, make a list of all the things only you can do that you need to do more of, but aren’t able to. The objective is to reduce the left side through decision making or delegation and plan for how you will engage with the right side more. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates
3. Hold a kickoff meeting.
Bring the team together for a kickoff meeting to discuss expectations, roles, who’s responsible for what, key milestones or deadlines, how often you’ll check in to report progress, when and how you’ll do beta tests, and how the review and approval process will go. Build some buffer time in for the unexpected. And remember that your job is to set the vision and quarterback, not get in the weeds. – Mary-Cathryn Kolb, brrr
4. Ask for input, and praise good work.
Ask team members for their input from the start and praise them for work well done. It is surprising how empowering it is to allow employees to shine, and they often will choose more responsibility than a new leader might be comfortable offering. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
5. Define what should be done, but not how.
Define the task(s), and tell your team what should be done — but, in most cases, not how it should be done. Passionately wait for the result. If you’re satisfied, great. If you are not satisfied, discuss it with the person or with the team (depending on the task). It works for me. – Gennady Feller, Safe Partner, Inc.
6. Provide the needed resources.
Remember, you are no longer the doer, you are the leader. Your ability to know the details will help you guide and teach your team so they can grow and do great work. They need you to lead them, provide the resources and knock down obstacles for them. Ask questions, have them show you what they are doing and explain their thinking, and suggest options if needed, but do not do their work for them. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC
7. Provide clear direction about your expectations.
Determine how much oversight you want to have and set those expectations with your team. You may need regular updates on a project, but at times, you may never want to think about certain tasks again. Your team members will appreciate the clear direction, and you will only have to worry about following up on the projects you want to be involved with. – E. Tanner Milne, Menlo Group Commercial Real Estate
8. Be open to the possibility of failure.
Keep in mind that when you delegate, you must be open to the possibility that failure will occur. Delegate nonessential tasks and items where failure can be used as a learning opportunity. If failure is absolutely not an option, retain that task yourself or delegate with oversight. – Jared Knisley, Fizen Technology
9. Trust, but verify.
Trust your staff to fulfill their duties, just as you were trusted. However, follow up to make sure that your trust is not misplaced. – Christine Durrett, Durrett & Kersting PLLC