The destructive myth of the manager who can handle everything and anything on her own continues to loom large in the imagination of many leaders in the hospitality industry. Because the hospitality business requires that managers oversee a carefully-orchestrated staff of dozens, if not hundreds, of workers, it can be tempting to succumb to the old-fashioned model of “top-down” management. This system places the lion’s share of responsibility -- and work -- on the individual at the top of the organizational chart.
If this sounds familiar, you might want to rethink your leadership style. According to the vast majority of business experts, this model of management is outmoded and obsolete. Decades of research have shown that the best way to succeed in business is by making the organization’s success a team effort -- literally.
According to delegation expert Donna Genett, author of If You Want It Done Right, You Don't Have to Do It Yourself!: The Power of Effective Delegation, there’s a broad spectrum of business benefits that only can be achieved by dividing up some of the day-to-day tasks of management among your team members. Your staff will develop a greater sense of personal investment in the success of the business if they have more responsibility. You’ll be able to tap into a diverse pool of talents, skills, and perspectives you may have never realized your team members’ possessed. And perhaps most importantly, you’ll alleviate the burden of an overwhelming array of daily tasks and responsibilities, freeing yourself to spend more time on high-level activities, such as strategy development and long-term planning.
When it’s done right, delegation is a win-win proposition. But doing it right can be a bit harder than it sounds, particularly if you’ve developed a longstanding habit of handling too many responsibilities without any assistance. Here are some pointers to help you facilitate more effective delegation:
If you don’t set forth your expectations from the get-go, the process will be unlikely to succeed. Rather than just asking your crew to improve appetizer sales, ask them to develop five strategies that would increase sales 10% in a month.
Don’t try to “delegate” tasks to your entire staff in an all-hands meeting. Instead, ask specific individuals to take on distinct projects. If the task is large or complex, it may be best to form a small group that can share the responsibility amongst themselves.
One of the objectives of delegating responsibilities to your team is to help spark professional growth. However, it’s important to stay realistic in your expectations. Does the task require specific knowledge, skills, or experience? Delegation should allow your team members to stretch their abilities, but don’t force them entirely outside of their comfort zone.
Even though you are delegating some responsibility, you are still ultimately in charge. Make sure you are straightforward about the parameters of the delegated responsibility. If your team is sure about what you need and when you need it, they’re much more likely to meet -- and even exceed -- your expectations.
It’s not uncommon for managers to feel as if delegating to team members is a sign of weakness or failure, especially if the concept is new to you. It’s a whole new way of looking at leadership, and it may take some getting used to. Just step out of the way and let your team surprise you with their effectiveness!
During the early stages of delegation, you will probably need to keep a close eye on your team to make sure they’re carrying out their new responsibilities to your satisfaction. After they’ve proven themselves, however, it’s important that you back off a bit and give them a chance to succeed. Don’t forget that one of the objectives of delegation is allowing you more time to attend to higher-level planning and strategizing. Remember, less “busyness” means better business!