Back to resources

Learning How to Delegate When You Become a Manager

Personal Growth
Leadership
Delegate

4 April, 2022

Helena Bachar
Helena Bachar

Senior Director of Product at Houzz

Helena Bachar, Senior Director of Product Management at Houzz, shares how she learned to delegate and dives into the benefits this had on her team.

Struggling to Let Go

As my team grew, I realized that I was still taking on work that could have been assigned to someone else and always I felt like I had a lot of reasons that kept me from delegating. For instance, I didn't want my teammates to feel overloaded and experience burnout. I also didn't want to stress them out any further, because we were working in pandemic conditions. So I shouldered some of the work. I believed that doing it myself was quicker and more practical than explaining the how-to's to someone else. But in the end, this mindset didn't benefit me or my team.  

  • First of all, I was overloaded. I was taking on other people’s work. And each task entailed a bunch of follow-ups that I later had to deal with.
  • Second, I received feedback about my team not being responsive enough. My Product Managers (PM) weren't getting any limelight because I always answered the questions from management.
  • Third, I was stunting my PMs' professional growth. As a PM, you're supposed to juggle 15 different things at once, but my team didn't fully grasp how to prioritize and multitask since I was taking on the “extra” load.

Making the Conscious Decision to Delegate

I hired my team members and I knew that they were talented, capable individuals. So why couldn't I let them take the wheel? I trusted my team, but I needed to learn how to let go.  

You have to be mindful that delegating doesn't make you look "less than" in leadership. On the contrary, it shows that you're a good leader. Once I realized this, I took a step back and let my team take more responsibility. Instead of answering emails myself, I reminded my teammates to do so. I started sending them to meetings that I would have previously attended.  

I made it a point to change my outlook, which took a lot of energy. (It still takes a lot of energy.) You have to constantly tell yourself: "No, I'm not supposed to do this. I'm supposed to tell somebody else to do this." Be mindful that you're no longer contributing as an individual. As a manager, your job description changes. You have to delegate, take a step back, and watch your teammate deliver. If you have to, remind them of something, but don't do it yourself.  

Personally, it took a long time to get used to this new approach. It's especially difficult when you're a "doer." There's something to be done, and your instinct tells you to do it, and you know that you can do it faster. But that's not the point. You have to be thinking of the next thing that needs to be delegated and done.  

Once I implemented these practices, I saw things change. I got fewer emails in my inbox and the negative feedback about my team stopped. My PMs were getting noticed. They looked better as employees, and I looked better as a manager.

Transitioning to the Mindset of a Manager

  • Trust your people, and trust that delegating will benefit both you and your team in terms of career growth.
  • Understand that your work is no longer as an individual contributor. As a manager, people have different expectations from you.
  • Remember that it's easy to fall into your old habits. Make it a point to practice self-restraint if you feel the urge of doing rather than delegating.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Leaving Room to Say Things Suck — Leadership Lessons from “Ted Lasso”

17 August

A major sign of trust, comfortability, and vulnerability is for someone you lead to be able to say something sucks.

Building A Team
Company Culture
Leadership
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
John Hartley

John Hartley

Senior Engineering Manager at Curology

How to Maintain Happiness: The Underrated Aspect of Creating Team Dynamic

2 August

Jonathan Ducharme, Engineering Manager at AlleyCorp Nord, encourages the importance of a workplace environment that cultivates mental wellness.

Personal Growth
Company Culture
Leadership
Internal Communication
Psychological Safety
Jonathan Ducharme

Jonathan Ducharme

Engineering Manager at AlleyCorp Nord

Scaling a Team in Two Parts: The Product and Manager

2 August

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti, Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart, walks through his experience scaling a team, product and his skills as a leader.

Managing Expectations
Product
Scaling Team
Leadership
Meetings
Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart

How to Enter QA With a Non-Technical Degree

2 August

Lewis Prescott, QA Lead at Cera Care, explains his journey from a degree in psychology to learning test automation and computer programming.

Handling Promotion
Personal Growth
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Career Path
Lewis Prescott

Lewis Prescott

QA Lead at CeraCare

Congratulations you're an Engineering Manager! Now What?

29 July

Congratulations, you have just been promoted to an engineering management role. Once you are done celebrating the promotion you have worked hard to earn you might start to ask yourself, now what do I do?

Leadership
New Manager
AJ St. Aubin

AJ St. Aubin

Director Software Engineering at The RepTrak Company