Your LEADERS make the difference.

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Your LEADERS make the difference.

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Maree's Blog

Why the buy-back jeopardises your leadership

Over the past month, I have had several conversations with clients who are frustrated with their team. These leaders are finding themselves redoing work they thought they had delegated.

Done well, delegation allows you to tap into your potential and your team's potential.

However, if you have tried delegating to your team before and it hasn’t worked out so well you may be reluctant to do so again. You may have had to send work back for them to re-do it, making them resentful. Redoing it yourself makes you resentful. Let’s face it, it would have been easier and faster to do it yourself in the first place. You may feel like you are falling into a vicious cycle of reacting, redoing and responding – something that is typical of those in a middle management role.
 
When you step into a leadership role and begin to delegate, a couple of areas may trip you up and limit the effectiveness of what you want achieved.
 
The BUY-BACK

This is when you buy back the task you thought you had delegated. You say things like:

  • ‘I’ll check with…’ Involving someone else and slowing things down.
  • Let me think about it…’ This takes the onus off the person to think any further about the task.
  • ‘Leave it, I’ll…’ Completely taking it back off their hands, you end up doing it anyway.

Put in LIMBO

This is where you halt progress. You say things like:

  • ‘Send me something on it…’ This means that person must draft a plan, send it to you, and then wait for your response!
  • ‘Why don’t you check with…’ When you tell someone to check with someone else, this slows down progress and can also mean they get mixed messages from that other person.
  • ‘See me later about…’ This tells them they can’t do much until they check with you later.

This means the delegation fails. You have either taken the task back, or you have slowed down progress. 

Setting each person up for success to do their role well, and giving them the confidence to take on more and different work, is crucial.
 
Delegating is about trust. If trust is in place regarding their capability, you will feel comfortable delegating. If that trust isn’t in place, or you don’t have enough evidence of their capability, the ‘Buy Back’ and the ‘Put in Limbo’ scenarios come into play.
 
Knowing someone’s level of capability can be tricky. The person may be capable, but you don’t yet have evidence of it. What do you need to hear and see to believe that this person can do the job?
 
Focus on understanding each team member's capability - once you do, you can start stretching that capability.
 
When you use delegation correctly, productivity increases, team engagement and collaboration increase, and the team takes on extra responsibility. This is leading, which requires new skills, so be prepared to become a learner again.

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