It’s so exciting . . . you’ve been a comms team of one forever and now you get to hire someone! You go through the process and find the perfect person. Then a month in, you start second-guessing yourself because it feels like you have even more work to do because now you have to supervise someone too.
It’s time to learn the fine art of delegation!
When you’ve been the utility player, doing a little bit of everything, it can be hard to let go. But if you are going to make your comms work the team sport it should be, you need to let go of a bunch of work and become a coach instead of a player.
Just like you want your own supervisor to trust you and to give you control over your workload, you need to do the same with your new team member, whether they directly report to you or not.
Acknowledge that building trust takes time. You need to establish a relationship. Get to know them as a person. Find out what they are excited about. Find out what skills they have now and where they want to grow (now that they are in the job the answers might be somewhat different than in the interview). It’s OK to talk about what you want to watch more closely now while they are learning and what you hope to let go of entirely at some point.
Talk about where you are now, and where you want to go, but let them decide how. You should be clear about what you want to be done, and what resources are available (including time), but you should generally leave the “how” up to them.
Be very clear about decision-making and review cycles. What do you want to decide and what do you want them to decide? When will you check-in? What requires discussion?
Practice giving and receiving feedback. You have to be honest with each other to build trust and to get the work done well. Talk about the ways you both prefer to give and to receive feedback. Yes, you should be getting feedback from the new employee too!
Use project management tools to keep up with each other. Software can be a huge help in reducing your anxiety as a new delegator. If you have your staff members break down their tasks and then update the software as they are completing the tasks, it will make it easier for you to watch without micromanaging.
Be there for them. That doesn’t mean you have to respond to a million questions a day. You can set up times when you will be available for questions. It’s also good to have regular standing meetings that you won’t cancel, so they can depend on that time with you.
What advice do you have for someone trying to delegate work for the first time?