Delegating Should Not Equal Dumping
It can be a bit confusing for new supervisors and/or managers, to know when to delegate versus unleash all the groups’ work, including their own, to their direct supports. It is best to get through the trial and error portion of their new position as soon as possible.
Delegating is the act of appropriately dispensing work assignments to employees to complete on time, helping to grow support people, and keeping the team working to complete its goals for the company. Through trial and error, one will learn who is best at doing what, how well people can allocate their time to complete tasks, and which employees consistently put out more effort to meet their deadlines (which should be negotiated whenever possible).
Dumping is when you dispense most or all of your group’s work, including your own. Such a step is usually followed by you sitting in your cubicle or office with nothing meaningful to do, and thinking it is good to be on a higher rung of the business ladder. Talking about your college football team, what is hot for fashions this year, best computer games, etc. all leave the same unpalatable impression with your team. To think that way would be wrong.
Firstly, you have a job description (JD) that should identify your supervisor’s expectations in completing work activities. Never have I read an approved JD that implies it is OK to wait patiently at your desk (or anywhere else) and do nothing until your direct employees complete their work and yours too. Secondly, if you have a legitimate lapse in your workload, you could approach your supervisor to see if there is anything you can take off his/her plate to clear the department load sooner. A more seasoned supervisor may be holding work that needs to be addressed since he/she knows this is a new position for you, and does not want to overwhelm you in the first few weeks.
You could also follow-up with your employees on a daily or weekly basis to see how they are coming, and if they could use suggestions or help with their work. Maybe the work you assigned would better fit for other employees, and then you can begin to see how cross-training people for backup positions can come in handy in future activities.
By casually chatting with your people and observing them in their work environment, you might notice who is more or less comfortable with certain computer software, how well they communicate with others outside of the group, or who is building ladders with other departments knowing they may need outside help throughout the year. By reviewing your people ‘in action,’ you could start identifying potential one-on-one or group training sessions to increase their business knowledge, communication skills, software capabilities, and business acumen for upcoming work assignments.
Being a supervisor at any level should be more than a title. It requires knowing what each of your employees can bring to the business, their strengths, areas for improvement, and where they see themselves in the future. If you can accomplish that, I would suggest your employees would feel better about coming to work each day, knowing they are learning and being challenged for bigger and better opportunities.