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As anyone who has led a team knows, an effective manager means more than just making sure the job is done and goals are achieved. For perfectionists, however, these aspects of the job can be especially challenging – because the only way to make sure everything is up to their standards is to do it yourself (or at least double-check). In other words, some perfectionists may have difficulty delegating and are therefore overwhelmed and possibly on the verge of burnout.
This is a problem that Melody Wilding– an executive coach and licensed social worker – speaks regularly to her clients. Based on her experiences, she has developed some strategies that perfectionists can use to learn how to delegate (and then actually do it). She recently shared some of these tips in an article for Fast Company. Here’s what to know.
Start with a cost-benefit analysis
While perfectionists are likely to constantly weigh the pros and cons of their choices at work, Wilding recommends They take a step back and do a similar analysis of themselves and their delegation methods (or lack thereof) – including the impact they can have on colleagues:
Their overfunctioning can lead to a dynamic in which others are underfunctioning. When you take responsibility for doing everything and “fixing” situations, others have no opportunity to get involved. Delegation is not a punishment, nor is it about you “throwing work on people”. Rather, it is an opportunity for your team and colleagues to learn, grow, and acquire new skills and competencies.
This includes examining how their difficulties with delegation affect their own mental health and possibly opportunities for their own personal growth. Per wilding::
While you might think that you are trying to occupy more positions as a rock star, a lack of executive delegation actually signals that you are not ready to take on any more responsibilities. Highlighting what it is about can change your behavior as people tend to be motivated by loss.
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Understand that it is not all or nothing
In some cases, perfectionists will postpone something completely if they don’t believe they will be able to meet their (usually self-imposed) high standards – including delegating. But Wilding says it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big handover of entire projects: it’s okay to start small and give yourself time to familiarize yourself with the idea of putting other people in charge of specific tasks. She advises::
Start by choosing a low-stakes task that you can delegate first. Try to track your time for a week to identify candidates for the delegation. This includes tasks that:
- Are administrative, boring and take a lot of time
- Require a simple, repeatable process that can be easily taught
- Do you need special skills that you don’t have
Share responsibilities as well as tasks
Although we could imagine delegating to tell someone what to do, Wilding says that perfectionists should also remember giving someone the authority to determine how something is achieved. “This requires you to let go of rigid, perfectionist thinking and the assumption that there is a ‘right’ way to get and achieve something,” she writes.