Monday, May 18, 2009

Delegating Makes You a Mentor

By guest blogger, Ruth Halpern, of Halpern & Associates.

Wondering how to get started as a mentor? Delegate a project to someone today!

I was training a group of attorneys recently who said that they simply don’t have time to mentor young associates—it takes more time to delegate a task than to do it themselves. This is a tough complaint to argue with, because in the short term it’s true: it often seems easier to do a task than to break it down, teach someone else how it should be done, and coach them through the process.

The long term view, however, is that we can’t afford NOT to do it. If we don’t pass on our expertise and know-how, our organizations will be unable to survive us—we’ll have no skilled, well-trained successors. To put it another way, it’s our duty to our employer to mentor and train younger members of the organization. When we postpone or avoid this task, and try to do everything ourselves, we’re dooming the organization.

So, given the importance of mentoring our successors, how do we get past the “I don’t have time” barrier?

Last week, when I was presenting a program at the Northern California Human Resource Association’s HR West Conference, I attended a wonderful training session that provided a good answer to this question. Jo Miller, CEO of
Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., presented a program on “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Jo presents the components of influence very clearly, and one thing resonated with me more than anything else: you can increase your “resources influence” by delegating projects to other people.

Naturally, you don’t delegate in an, “I can’t be bothered with this” way.

Instead, you might pull someone out of the crowd, saying “You’re the right person for this job. You may never have done anything like this before, but I’ve been watching you, and I’ve seen that you have capabilities that go beyond your job description.”

What Jo explained is that you can expand your influence by assigning tasks to people within your organization who might be stretched—and increase their competence, confidence, and reputation—by taking on a task you don’t want to do. You gain in several ways simultaneously:

  • You gain influence, by demonstrating that you’re a person who can build a team and get things done.
  • You gain time, by delegating a project to someone else.
  • You gain a loyal ally, someone who believes in you because you believe in them.
  • You establish yourself as a mentor while learning how to delegate skillfully.

When it’s spelled out like this, why wait?

Read more at Ruth Halpern's blog,

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