Learning to let go after a promotion

By on 23rd March 2016

According to Virgin founder and CEO Richard Branson it’s the key to being an entrepreneur – knowing, as a manager, when to let people do their job unassisted. Micro-managing every task and stepping in repeatedly will most land you the title of a bad boss, but it will also likely double your workload between your new tasks and those you’ve handed on, and will prevent others from developing their own careers.

But how do you do it? How do you delegate successfully to find the balance between letting your successor grow and expand into the role?

Here are four tips to delegate like a pro:

Put yourself in their shoes

It won’t be difficult to mentally revert back to how you coped with your tasks pre-promotion. However, you need to remember the reason that you were promoted is that you were deemed to have promise so it’s not time to hand over the reins of your previous role.

The tasks that you will be letting go will certainly be of interest to more junior staff, and a key aspect is allowing them to grow without dictating or imposing solutions. They may see themselves as a potential leader of the future and are keen to grow into their roles through growing autonomy. The projects tasks that you once performed that may be have supported your promotion, may again provide an opportunity for others to move up the ladder as well.

Be open to new ideas

It’s been said that delegation is about defining the ‘what’ but delegating the ‘how’. Picture this scenario: a successor takes on your previous roles with gusto, but with a completely different methodology to ‘your way’ – one that hasn’t been tried before.

There are several paths open to you; explain that it’s being done incorrectly; suggest that it’s not how you did it and leave it at that; or take a back seat completely. The first option is not helpful (or even necessarily true), but the other two options might bear fruit, and the new perspective may offer different benefits.

It reflects well on you as an effective people manager, one willing to let staff experiment and grow into their roles.

Set expectations

It important that when you delegate tasks to your employees that you also clear instructions to your expectations and any targets that need to be achieved. Setting KPIs for staff at the start of the changeover, and informing staff of these, will help to ease any confusion making the lines of responsibility clear.

Ask mentors

If you’re really struggling to let things go, ask those in more senior roles than you for their advice. They’ll have case studies of how to communicate, common mistakes in the delegation process, and descriptions of how they have altered their approach as they’ve moved upwards. It will show you the way forward – for yourself and your team.

Finally, a key reason to delegate the tasks of your previous role is to ensure you don’t hamper your success in your new one. New promotion will likely include new challenges, projects and initiatives that will require your full attention in order to succeed.

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