Do you often find yourself doing your team’s work?

Do you often find yourself doing your team’s work?

Last week, I spoke with a manager, and she said, “Ashish, I often find myself doing my team’s job.” This is how the rest of the conversation went.

Ashish: “How does that happen? Tell me more.”

Manager: “When they are working on tasks, they are often unable to finish them. They are not confident if they will be able to finish it in time or not. When the deadlines are approaching, I have to jump in to ensure that we meet the deadlines.”

Ashish: “Is there a skill gap in your team?”

Manager: “No, no, they are skilled. In our team, we have all the skills that we need.”

Ashish: “Then what happens?”

Manager: “It impacts the tasks I am supposed to do. I am not able to effectively keep my stakeholders informed. In certain cases, clients don’t get the attention they need from me.”

It is not the first time I have had this conversation with any manager. It can be tough to balance your team’s work with your own as a manager. Juggling the two can often lead to inconsistent or poor outcomes, leaving your team behind.

There are a few reasons why managers do their team’s work. The first and most important reason is that they care about their team and want them to succeed. This is demonstrated through their willingness to delegate tasks and set goals for the team. They also make sure everyone knows what those goals are and help them reach them. In the end, managers can focus on their job objectives and the team’s success.

For the team to be successful, the team must function well. Effective Delegation prevents mistakes and ensures the completion of tasks on time. Moreover, the manager leads and manages the team effectively. However, when the team’s work isn’t productive or doesn’t meet expectations, it can harm the manager. In such a scenario, the manager may feel responsible and be distracted from their primary goals.

More often than not, the limitations are in the manager’s delegation skill set. How effectively the manager delegates work to their subordinates drives the overall productivity and efficiency of the team. When done correctly, Delegation can unlock so much hidden productivity and engagement within the team. Moreover, you free up your time to focus on higher-priority tasks.

Some of the elements that are critical to effective Delegation are

  1. Overall project timelines
  2. Team member’s individual skillset – strengths and improvement areas
  3. Effective communication of expectations
  4. Support from the manager or other team members
  5. Manager’s ability to provide constructive feedback
For a detailed guide on How to master Delegation, read here.

Another major factor that causes managers to do their team’s work is not able to provide Autonomy within the team. Teams that have high levels of autonomy function smoothly. In such teams, members know their respective roles very well. Moreover, they take a lot off the manager’s plate and work with the freedom to deliver what is expected from them. It brings responsibility and accountability to the team members. It needs a very high level of managerial expertise for the managers to pull this off. But once achieved, it can be enriching for the managers and the team alike.

While attempting to give Autonomy to the team, you must tread carefully. Not all team members may be ready to take high levels of Autonomy. That’s why you must go through a structured process to understand when and where you can give Autonomy. obviously, you go through a progression curve to keep increasing the levels of Autonomy higher and higher.

Here is a more detailed piece to understand the nuances of giving Autonomy to the team.

Finally, you need to watch out for the signs of disengagement in the team. Not being able to deliver the work on time and as per expected quality despite having all resources is one of the signals of disengagement. If you start to see this as a pattern in one or more team members, you must begin scanning for other signals of disengagement. As a manager, this should be a DEFCON 1 state.

Early warning signals can help prevent loss of productivity, business, and team members. If you see this happening, you must seek help to address the disengagement situation in the team.

What signals should you watch out for? Read here.

In essence, you shouldn’t take the situation lightly. IF you find yourself doing your team’s work regularly, something much change. Neither you nor your team will achieve their full potential in this situation. All of you will remain in limbo for your professional growth.

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