Learning how to delegate is one of the most important leadership skills at the office.
Done correctly, you, your team, and your organization can reap the rewards: save time, increase efficiency (and the bottom line!), accomplish more, and boost your value to the organization.
Trusting and empowering your team by delegating authority to make difficult decisions are two key traits of a mature leader confident in his or her role as a manager or director.
Help from your team can forge a unity of effort and let you focus on more important matters.
In an increasingly complex work environment of multilevel duties and responsibilities across divisions and departments, the delegation of decisions to the lowest level possible is a must.
However, one needs to understand that delegation is art, not science, where interpersonal skills are essential elements of a leader’s performance.
Indeed, knowing how to delegate is a core business skill – #12 in our blog series, 21 Important Business Skills for Success. You can return to read the previous article on Business Skill #11 – Effective Speaking.
Do you feel stressed out to perform under demanding conditions by your bosses?
Then, read on to discover Best Practices for How to Delegate, 5 Tips for Effective Delegation, and Signs of Ineffective Delegation. Learn to trust more your own team for your own career success.
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Best Practices for How to Delegate
Delegating routine work will relieve some of your stress to manage more and provide an opportunity to empower your team.
Business books runneth over with advice on just how to get others to do your work for you.
Below, check out the best practices for how to delegate divided into three sections:
Delegate Selection, and
How to Delegate.
Learning how to delegate can be broken into three primary parts:
Show a Pliable Attitude – Leaders adopt a flexible mindset to accomplish goals through others, leave details to staff, and see subordinates as collaborators to obtaining common goals and superior results. A modicum of command and control has to be relinquished for effective delegation.
Form a Habit – The best managers know through experience that they need to develop a habit of delegating major projects to subordinates in order to succeed ultimately.
Use Techniques – A leader’s approach to delegating authority – power sharing – has to be tailored to specific situations given the idiosyncrasies of others.
Demonstrate Empathy, Insight, and Understanding – are necessary for delegating tasks for quickly constructing a strong and successful team of people, well able to carry out a project to a successful conclusion. A wise boss does not seek perfection, but establishes high expectations for others to meet (and perhaps surpass!).
To whom will you delegate your next project or assignment?
Search for talent across the organization to find the best people for the particular project in mind.
Follow these recommendations.
Ask yourself a few key questions to establish a criteria and to help you decide.
Can any of your staff do the task at lower cost than you?
What knowledge, skills and attitude are needed for the project?
Who has capacity in terms of time and workload to handle the duty?
Who has the interest?
Whose capabilities do you need to expand to fill coverage gaps in the group’s day-to-day operations?
To whom do you want to give an opportunity for growth and challenge their mettle?
While directors have a tendency to delegate mostly to their reliable performers, spread around the opportunity to shine to junior managers.
Above all, develop and challenge everyone in your department to foster a strong corporate esprit de corps.
5 Tips for Effective Delegation
Select the right person with the right abilities for the job. Picking the wrong person for a key task is a major reason for failure. This frees you to do more things of higher value.
The rule is that you never delegate an important task to a person who has not performed that task satisfactorily in the past.
Delegate the entire job. One hundred percent responsibility for a task is a major performance motivator. The more often you assign responsibilities to the right people, the more competent they become.
Grant operational discretion.
Further, give the team members the freedom to operate, but check in periodically on progress.
Outline the expectations with built-in checkpoints for follow-up.
Delineate clear outcomes. Establish measurable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). If you can quantify it, you can manage it.
Explain what is to be done, how you think it should be done, and the reasons for doing this job in the first place.
Make sure your employee has all the information needed to complete the job.
Confirm that he/she understands–and accepts–the requirements to avoid any recriminations later.
Set a Deadline. Set a deadline and a schedule for completion of the task. At the same time, arrange for regular reporting and for periodic inspection. Invite feedback and questions if there are any delays or problems.
The above reflects the SMART philosophy for delegating.
To find out more about the SMART Method of delegation, consult this excellent resource.
Signs of Ineffective Delegation
A failure of delegating is quickly apparent to team members and your superiors.
While successful delegation multiplies your achievements, ineffective delegation hampers your productivity and ultimately harms your chances for promotion.
Poor delegation will cause you frustration, demoralizes your subordinates, and fails to achieve the task or purpose itself.
If you have to step in to rescue a project, or exhibit any of the following signs, your project is bordering on disaster and your delegation skills failed you:
- you intervene more than expected
- obsessed with grainy detail, not “big picture”
- disputes with team members
- your in-tray is not less occupied
- apparently the task is beyond the capability of team members
Delegation is one of the most important and effective management skills – critical to survival in the tumultuous interdependent global economy..
Use the recommendations above to know how to delegate for the benefit of you, your staff, and your organization.
As you know, without the ability to delegate effectively, it is impossible for you to advance in management to higher positions of responsibility.
Accomplish your career goals by harnessing the experience, and expertise of others to show your bosses you are ready for the next level.