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The Delights of Delegation: Why Going it Alone Doesn’t Work

The Delights of Delegation: Why Going it Alone Doesn’t Work

Whether you’re a high-flying manager tasked with leading your team into battle in the latest big company mission, or looking to get a passion project off the ground, falling into that most counterproductive of traps and trying to do everything yourself can be all too easy.

After all, these projects are your babies; their success — or failure — ultimately lies with you. People, be it your employers, colleagues, friends or family are counting on you to take this on and emerge triumphant.

When the pressure is on like this, most of us have fallen victim at one time or another to the belief that doing everything ourselves is the best option.

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Yet by enlisting the help of others and putting your absolute faith in them, you’ll achieve much more than you ever could on your own.

Micromanagement

The Oxford English Dictionary, describes the process of micromanagement as

“control[ing] every part , however small, of (an enterprise or activity):”

And there are certainly arguments for this oft-maligned style of management.

It could be that we trust ourselves not to screw up more than we trust our team or that we selfishly hope most of the praise and rewards will come our way once a project is successful. We might not even be consciously aware that we are micromanaging; we’re simply so stressed out about a big project that it consumes our every waking thought and manifests in a need to control every little detail.

Though the process of micromanaging others is problematic, even worse is instead going solo and undertaking every single task by ourselves. Simply knuckling down and getting the work done can sometimes seem easier than getting a team involved and sharing both the hard work and rewards, but it rarely is.

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The Delights of Delegation

The negatives of both micromanaging others and trying to take on everything ourselves far outweigh any benefits of doing so. Wielding complete control over any project can be stressful. We worry about every task, lose sleep over the most trivial of details and become agitated and angry to the point where we snap at those around us. Even worse, trying to complete everything on our own can have a detrimental impact on our health and relationships as we work round the clock, skip meals and forgo time spent with loved ones to meet deadlines.

Eliminate a lot of that stress by delegating tasks to others and having complete faith that they’ll do a good job for you. It’s that faith which will ultimately ensure a successful project.

When you let go of the reins and let others know you trust them, they’re likely to feel empowered. Empowered people feel like a valuable member of a team and any number of surveys will tell you that employees who feel valued produce better work.

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Lose the ego. Somebody else can do it better than you.

At work, it’s important to remember that your employees have been hired for their skills and expertise. Use them! Let people focus on what they’re good at and they’ll deliver better results than you could if you were simultaneously trying to juggle an infinite number of other tasks at the same time. Even if you’re only working on a personal project, put your ego aside and look around you; you’ll probably find people you know who can complete certain tasks better than you. Get in touch and ask for help!

What’s more, when you empower people to make decisions and deliver the goods on the smaller tasks, you free yourself up to concentrate on the proverbial bigger picture and isn’t that what we’d all really like to be doing?

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Chris Skoyles

Coach, and trainee counsellor specializing in mental health and addiction.

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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