It’s faster if I do it myself…. and other lies we tell ourselves about delegating

This is a guest post by Rebecca Malotke-Meslin, the Owner of Pleasantly Aggressive Coaching and Consulting, where she empowers women working in independent schools to confidently own their leadership. 

Marketing and Communications touch every aspect of a school. Everything from social media strategy to communications for the Head of School land on your plate, making prioritizing tasks challenging. You might feel as though you’re responsible for far too much, especially if you’re in a small office. For women leaders, in particular, admitting we need help may lead to feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome. Alternatively, asking for help may seem like yet another task rather than a relief. Great leaders have many things in common, and one of the most crucial skills is the ability to delegate. So, how can you ask for help in a way that helps you feel confident while still accomplishing your goals? Let’s dismantle two thoughts, raise your self-awareness, and implement a few strategies to get you back on track. 

It’s faster if I do it myself. 

What you might really be thinking is, “I don’t trust others to complete a task to my standards.” Perhaps you already know a colleague or employee’s performance in a particular area is not up to your standards. Have you given that person honest feedback about their performance? Maybe there is someone who has never done the task before, but you want to provide them with an opportunity. Let’s use a real-life example: You ask an employee to write copy for the website. The result is what you asked for but needs significant polishing. What do you do? Did you check in with yourself to make sure you explained your expectations clearly? Next, are you sitting with the person and explaining your desired edits? Or do you make the changes and never follow up with the employee? If so, congratulations, you got the job done, but your employee didn’t learn anything. We assume those discussions will take more time than they actually do, and in our haste, we miss critical opportunities to share feedback and empower someone in their role. The pattern will repeat unless you change it. 

Additionally, sometimes our standards are too high. Yes, I said it. Check your desire for perfection to determine if the work submitted is good enough. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Not all emails, communications, and copy are critical to your school’s mission. Remembering that can save you a significant amount of time and stress.

I am an office of 1 (or 2) and don’t have anyone to delegate to. We’re all stressed out!

Delegating tasks doesn’t necessarily mean handing a job to another employee. When seeking efficiency, we often find ways to automate or outsource. Regardless of your budget, there are options available, from software to consultants. Every day, I see a new app to help with email, scheduling, or analyzing data. While some have free options, others have a price tag, and when budgets are tight, you might shut down the idea before thoroughly vetting it. So, ask yourself, what is your time worth? Is it cheaper to pay a service $1,000 per year than for you to spend $10,000 of your time on those tasks? YES!. Do your research and present the numbers to your boss, Head of School, or business manager. Walking in asking for a $10,000 software system might get shut down quickly, even when you clearly articulate the benefits to the organization. If you leave out the dollars and cents of what it saves in terms of your time (i.e., money), it becomes more difficult to argue against. Consultants and freelancers are another way to have employee-like resources without hiring a permanent full-time or part-time person. Design, printing, and SEO can all be outsourced on a short-term or long-term basis to get you through projects. Many local printing shops will offer free design work and mailing services at an hourly rate well below your salary. This frees up your time to focus on strategy, managing employees, and mission-critical work. 

Recognizing the importance of delegating, then reframing it provides the opportunity to create time where it didn’t previously exist. Stand firm in your abilities to lead, but remain self-aware of your perfectionism, conflict avoidance, or other habits that may be holding you back from achieving your goals.

 

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