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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How To Delegate Effectively

Delegation has many benefits, both for leaders and employees. It helps leaders manage their workload and maximize productivity while also helping employees build skills. When done effectively, delegation can be used for professional development and as a tool to identify top performers.

While the benefits of delegation may be clear, actually delegating is not always an easy thing to do. The good news is that like all other skills, it can be learned, honed, and developed until it becomes second nature.

Start by being okay with letting go.

Sometimes the biggest challenge is letting go of some control. No matter how much you’d like to do everything yourself, it’s just not possible. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one capable of doing a task 100% correctly, but that’s only true in the absolute rarest of circumstances.

The first step is to identify what’s causing you to not delegate. Is it the fear that someone else’s work will be sub-par? That they won’t meet the deadlines? That they’ll drop the ball and you’ll end up having to do it anyway, but at the last minute? Once you’ve identified the reason, you can work to overcome it.

If you’re still apprehensive about delegation, start small and ease yourself into it. Delegate small, low risk tasks first, then work your way up to something bigger. Eventually, delegation will become less stressful and more routine.

Once you’ve let go and are ready to delegate bigger tasks, it’s important to have a plan of action.

Be strategic.

It’s important to choose the right person for the task. You shouldn’t delegate work to someone just because they have the capacity to do it. Instead, you need to choose a person whose skillset is right for the task and is capable of doing the work without assistance. It’s important to keep in mind that just because someone has the capability doesn’t mean they have the availability at that particular moment, so it’s important to find a balance between the two.

Set expectations.

It’s not enough to simply assign tasks to people, you must clearly explain what it is that you want them to accomplish. Clarify what a successful completion of the task would look like by identifying the end result and the timeframe in which it needs to be completed.

For tasks with a short turnaround, set a specific end date and check in at least once before the task is due. For longer term projects, set a series of goals and establish a routine of check-ins spread out between now and the due date.

Don’t micromanage.

Once you’ve delegated a task, step away. The only thing micromanaging does is add more work back onto your plate. It’s frustrating for both you and the person you delegated to, and more often than not actually impedes progress and results. There’s a fine line between monitoring progress and micromanaging, so be careful to evaluate your behavior to ensure you don’t cross it unintentionally.

Trust your team.

Once you’ve assigned a task to someone, grant them the authority to take full ownership. You have to trust that they will complete it correctly and on time. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional quick ‘how’s it going?’ chat, doing that too often will cause your employee to feel that you don’t trust them. To avoid this, set a schedule of check-ins at the beginning of the project and try to deviate from it only if absolutely necessary.

Check in after the task is completed.

Delegation is only successful with accountability. The person responsible for the task needs to be held accountable for its timely completion, accuracy, and results. It’s important to touch base after a task’s completion to review the results. If there was a problem with the work, it’s that person’s responsibility (perhaps with your assistance) to make things right. A task well done should be recognized. Both recognition and critique after a task are equally important.

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