The Importance of Task Delegation
13 May, 2020
I was approached by a team leader who recently transitioned to a Director position. At his new position, he not only had direct reports but also team leaders reporting to him. It took him a while to adjust to changes this transition implied and most importantly to differentiate what he should focus on and do it by himself and what he should delegate. He soon reached a point when he was feeling overwhelmed and demotivated. He was working 60 hours per week and still felt like he was not doing enough.
First off, I tried to identify all the tasks he was working on in one week. We listed all the tasked and then discussed which of these items require his personal involvement and which could be delegated to someone else. In addition to making the list of all the tasks, I asked him to record all the work he did in a week. Many items from that list would be overlooked if not written down. We also agreed that there are some tasks that didn’t require his personal involvement but were not worth delegating since they were not time-consuming.
The next step was actually delegating tasks and keeping records of it. I explained to him that he needs to have some monitoring procedures in place to ensure that delegated tasks are completed. I instructed him to be careful about this because without solid monitoring procedures, he will lose track of what was executed and what was not, and things will come back again to him.
- Don’t wait until one of your employees becomes overwhelmed with the workload to check if s/he is comfortable with delegating tasks. In this particular case, I was approached long after the problem emerged and after it already took its toll. If I knew for the problem before I could have helped him sooner.
- Monitoring the execution of delegated tasks is a crucial part of the delegation process. I personally set reminders and rely on calendar entries but any system that can help you keep the track can be used.
Stefan Gruber, VP of Engineering at Bitmovin, emphasizes the importance of task delegation as a key time management skill.
VP of Engineering at Bitmovin
Being slung back and forth between different types of work can be extremely disruptive for teams. Xiao Ma, director of engineering and chief architect at Medium spotlights a time he assembled a temporary team in a flexible way that maintained team structure.
Director of Engineering & Chief Architect at Medium
Adam Surak, Director of Infrastructure and Security at Algolia, discusses the constraints his team had in addressing operations toil and how he mapped out a solution that led to autonomy and accountability.
Director of Infrastructure & Security at Algolia
Radha Shenoy, director of product engineering at Github, details the importance of a balanced task estimation and how that translates successfully for her.
Director of Product Engineering at Github
Matt Tucker, CEO at Koan and recovering CTO, offers up various hypothetical scenarios for a CTO who may be thinking about filling the position of VP of engineering.
CEO at Koan
You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.
Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.