My first job out of graduate school was as a Resident Director. I served as a Resident Director at a couple of different schools for a few years before taking my current job. In those first couple of years as an RD, I picked up easily on many aspects of the position. But I often struggled with what tasks to give to my student leaders, especially my Office Assistant/Front Desk Manager and Senior Resident Assistant/Resident Assistant Mentor. In my third year as an RD, I had a full-time Assistant Resident Director, so I had more pressure to figure out proper delegation.
Strategic is my #1 strength in StrengthsFinder. This means I enjoy being effective, efficient, and intentional. I like people, but I would rather do the work on my own so I can do it the best way I see fit. (Wow, I feel terrible saying that out loud, but it’s true!) This does not make it easy for me delegate. In my early years as an RD, here were the common excuses I made for not delegating anything:
“No one else knows how to do it.”
“I don’t trust anyone else to do it.”
“I’ve always done it. I can do it quickly and seamlessly.”
“I’ll look incompetent/lazy/strained if I pass this task off to someone else.”
However, I made a commitment to practice delegation and do it well. I found that delegation actually supported my need for efficiency and intentionality. It allowed me to focus on what I was uniquely gifted to accomplish and task others with things they were positioned to do well.
For an extra kick of motivation, let’s discuss the “why.”
It pushes you to grow beyond your current identity.
If you stay stagnant and do the same tasks every day, you never have the time or capacity to learn something new or take on a new challenge. Delegation creates an awesome ripple effect. If you do it well and your supervisor does it well and those you supervise do it well, you should all be given opportunities to learn and grow often. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you love something new and it could change the trajectory of your future.
It sets you up to be an inspirational leader.
Delegating well and often to those you supervise allows them to build trust and respect for you. Because delegation requires a little bit of work on the front end, checking in periodically, and following up at the end, you will have to spend intentional time with them, training and motivating. In turn, you learn to trust and appreciate them as you gain the opportunity to see how wonderfully gifted they are.
It makes you more aware of the strong points and weak points on your team.
If you delegate tasks to those you supervise and those tasks sit idle or all you hear are complaints from your team, you become aware of issues. In the same vein, when you delegate tasks and watch your team thrive, it’s refreshing. It’s important to know what your team does well and what needs work.
As a Resident Director, I’ve had many student leaders go on to pursue a future in Student Affairs. I even had a couple become Resident Directors once they graduated. This is why delegation is important. When potential employers contacted me for a reference check, I was confident that they had what it takes to do the job well. If I had hoarded all of my responsibilities and not pushed and motivated my student leaders to take on greater responsibilities and try new tasks, I wouldn’t know what they were capable of and neither would they. Delegation increases your confidence in your team and their confidence in themselves. Who knows? Maybe they wouldn’t have pursued Student Affairs if I hadn’t delegated well.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Josie Ahlquist on Digital Identity, Social Media & Leadership