Delegation is one of the most powerful tools a manager has in the pursuit of organizational success, but it is difficult to master.
Why is it so hard?
Effective delegation takes time and thorough communication with employees.
Managers are busy people and commonly fall into the trap of thinking that it will be easier to do the work themselves. It’s true that taking the time to fully explain an assignment or train someone to complete the task is an investment in the short run. Effective delegation also requires some trust and confidence in your employee’s skills and experience. This is particularly challenging when you are in the process of forming a new team and still getting to know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses.
Letting go of control comes with some risks and requires you to become comfortable with the idea that employees will sometimes make mistakes during the learning process. However, the time and trust that you invest in your employees now will have a long-term payoff, helping you to build a more knowledgeable and skilled team and freeing you up to complete work that only you can do.
Before You Get Started with Delegation
Delegation means assigning another person complete responsibility and authority to get the work done, while still monitoring and supporting his or her performance as needed. Many managers don’t know how to delegate effectively, even those who have years of experience supervising others. Fortunately, delegation is a skill that can be mastered with some planning and practice. Here are four tips to get you started: Consider the goals of your business and team. Take an inventory of key responsibilities, tasks, projects, expectations, and commitments.
- Consider the goals of your business and team. Take an inventory of key responsibilities, tasks, projects, expectations, and commitments.
- Prioritize and determine the responsibilities that you must complete on your own. These will remain your sole responsibility.
- Identify the responsibilities that make sense for you to share or collaborate on with others.
- Identify the responsibilities that you can fully delegate to others.
When you create your lists, be realistic. Overextending yourself by trying to do too much on your own (or collaborating too much on assignments that could be completely delegated to others) will only slow down the overall progress of the team.
What to Consider When You Begin Delegating Tasks
As a manager, your primary role is to coach and develop the abilities of your team members. Delegation is one way to provide interesting learning and development opportunities for each person on the team. Here are three tips to help you with this process:
1) Look for ways to match your employees’ career-development needs with the business’ current goals. Let employees know why you are delegating projects, assignments, and tasks to them. Get comfortable with the idea that your employees may not approach or complete the assignment in exactly the same way you would.
2) Being clear about the purpose of the assignments, the performance outcomes, and the deadlines for completion is important and has some benefits: Employees who are given clear direction up front will be able to see the whole picture. It will also eliminate any anxiety they may have about differences in work style.
3) When you delegate assignments, you will also want to discuss the scope of each assignment and provide all of the background information necessary to support your employees’ success. In addition, be sure to define the materials and budget available to your employees so they understand the constraints under which their assignments must be completed.
4) Finally, share why you chose to delegate a certain assignment to a specific employee. If the assignment supports an employee’s long-term career goals or showcases his or her talents, say so.
When you delegate a task, express your commitment to the employee’s success and discuss potential barriers that he or she may encounter. When done correctly, employees will feel committed to their new assignments and motivated by the challenge—and the entire team will benefit.
For more tips on effective delegation, contact CMOE.