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How to Delegate Effectively: 9 Tips for Managers
No leader or manager in the workplace can do every task on their own. Delegation requires trusting your team.
Delegation is a skill, one you can acquire and develop over time and through experience. It demands confidence—in yourself and in your ability to pick the right team member for a task. The biggest barrier to delegating is inside your head. And don’t get roped into thinking delegating is a sign of weakness. Managers who delegate know that it encourages and motivates individuals and improves teamwork.
There’s no doubt it’s challenging to strike the right balance between maintaining control over your business and delegating to employees or contractors. But your refusal to hand over responsibility can take a devastating toll on business results, employee engagement and your personal life.
Here are 9 steps to help you delegate tasks so you can focus on growing your business.
1. Identify work to delegate
Not everything can be delegated. Some work is strategic or business critical, and would benefit from your personal attention. Before you begin delegating work, evaluate the importance of the work and the implications of delegating it.
That isn’t to say you can’t delegate important tasks. If there’s another team member with the context, experience, or skill set to do this work effectively, delegating it might may be a good option. But keep in mind that achieving a good end result is still your responsibility.
Good work to delegate includes:
- Work that will recur in the future: If you have a recurring task, it’s often worth delegating it to someone else who has the time and energy to do the job well.
- Work that aligns with team member’s interests: If a team member has expressed interest in developing a new skill or honing an existing one, see if there’s any work you can delegate to them to help them build those skills.
- Work that connects to team member’s goals: One of the best ways to delegate is to assign work that connects to a team member’s professional goals.
2. Identify the best people in the organization
Look for employees within your business who are ready and able to take on more responsibility. When hiring, make sure to take the time to recruit “A” players who have skills that complement your own. Create clear job descriptions, structured evaluation processes and fair incentives. These will help you achieve your business’s goals.
3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In
After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job. When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.
When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.
4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work
It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due. If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.
By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.
Keep in mind that this work might be easy for you to do, but it might be totally new to the person you’re delegating the work to. Take some time to walk them through the assignment and answer any questions they have before they get started to ensure they’re set up for success.
5. Prioritize communication and feedback
Delegating work is a really good opportunity for two-way feedback and communication. Make sure the person you’ve delegated work to has a way to contact you with any questions, and set up a regular check in, like a 1:1 meeting, where you can review things in more detail.
Provide feedback on their work for any future tasks you send their way. Also, ask for feedback from them—did you give them enough information to succeed? Were there any open questions that would have made getting the work done easier? Keep in mind that delegation is a long-term skill you’re beginning to build, so soliciting feedback helps set you up for long-term success.
6. Provide necessary resources to accomplish delegated tasks
For delegation to be successful, a manager should provide staff with resources needed to accomplish the delegated tasks or alternatively let them know where to get the necessary resources.
In addition, it is good practice to inform other team members who are supposed to be collaborating that you have delegated a specific task to a specific person. This is especially critical if an employee will be requesting others to work or contribute to an activity. The team would need to know that such requests have the delegated authority of the supervisor.
7. Be generous in your praise and acknowledgment
Praise good work, don’t take it for granted. Public recognition and acknowledgment inspires loyalty and increases motivation, engagement and general happiness. Share your appreciation in team meetings, emails, and don’t forget to include those praiseworthy points in performance reviews. Remember good work in mentoring and performance reviews.
8. Track work that you have delegated to others
Tracking delegated tasks simply entails keeping in mind four questions, namely:
- Who is working on what task?
- When is it due?
- How should the end result look like?
- What is the current progress?
You can use any system that you like to stay on top of your delegated tasks from simple notes to spreadsheets to calendar appointments or reminders to Gantt charts. The main idea is to know at any point in time the tasks you have handed over and how they are progressing in order to address any risks, challenges or hold-ups in good time. Your tracking systems will help you to oversee the successful completion of delegated tasks.
9. Support your employees by investing in training & coaching for them and yourself!
Training takes time—so it’s tempting to just do it yourself. But think of training as an investment in your team members and your own workload. Over time, you’ll recoup the time you spent training since the person will be able to do work. Delegating time-consuming tasks is a great way to build your own time management skills, while also giving team members new opportunities.
Through frequent and consistent delegation, a manager will be able to establish areas where the skills of subordinates fall short. Proactively identify skills that are necessary for the completion of regular tasks in the company and take steps to help employees develop the needed skills and competencies.
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