A training professional’s day-to-day responsibilities can become overwhelming, especially when your focus is on onboarding new employees. How can you focus on training the new employees who depend upon you when you have so many other fish to fry?
A readily available tool is right in front of you: your trainees.
Delegation is one of the most difficult skills for a go-getter to learn. It can feel almost impossible to relinquish the old mantra, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” The longer you abide by this rule, however, the deeper you’ll bury yourself in tasks that take you away from your main goal: training.
The Benefits of Delegation
As you learn to delegate effectively, you’ll see the benefits start to stack up. The most obvious is that there will be less on your plate. You’re only one person, and you can only divide your attention in so many directions. Think of new employees as extensions of yourself. They are looking to you for direction, just itching to be useful. Give them something to do!
Another benefit is that every task that a new employee completes is hands-on experience that can help make onboarding training actually stick. On-the-job practice is what every new employee wants, and it will reinforce what he or she learned in your training sessions. Not only that, but every task completed independently is a huge confidence booster.
How to Stop Doing It All Yourself
The benefits sound great, but actually realizing them is the hard part. For it to work, delegation has to be in the back of your mind all day, every day. Opportunities to delegate aren’t always obvious; sometimes, you have to search for them. Before you start any task, ask yourself, “What could a new employee learn from this?” It doesn’t have to be a big, mind-blowing project; it can be something as simple as sending a fax, saving a document or delivering something to a co-worker down the hall. For a new employee, there is an opportunity to learn in every task, no matter how small. (Did the employee know how to save a document on your shared drive or where that co-worker down the hall is? Now, she does!)
Once you’ve identified an opportunity to delegate, it’s time to bite the bullet. To feel comfortable handing off a task or a project, you have to be confident in your training skills and in your trainees’ capabilities. Take a few minutes to explain the task clearly, or type up a quick step-by-step cheat sheet, and turn them loose. It might be difficult at first, but once you see your own to-do list growing shorter and shorter — and a new employee’s confidence growing higher and higher — you’ll wonder why you haven’t been delegating all along.
What if It Doesn’t Work?
One of the reasons delegation is so hard to embrace is because sometimes, handing a task off to someone else doesn’t go according to plan. Maybe the trainee makes a mistake you have to address, or the task involves something he or she hasn’t learned or don’t understand. Ultimately, in this case, delegation leads to your having to do more work instead of less.
Don’t be discouraged. If the employee doesn’t fully understand the task, you’ve just identified a training opportunity. Even if your attempt at delegating doesn’t work out as you planned, it still benefits your trainee. Learn from the experience, and try again.
Using delegation in a training setting is a win-win strategy. You’ll receive the help you need, and your trainees will receive the practice they crave. You’ll be less stressed, new employees will feel like part of a team and you all can get more done. Even if a delegation attempt fails, there is learning to be had in that experience, too.
So, the next time you start to feel overwhelmed, take a look around the room at all the eager faces staring back at you, and put them to work.