Whether you run a small business of your own or you’re part of a large-scale corporate empire, possessing effective delegation skills is essential. However, in spite of its importance, delegating effectively to someone else is something the majority of managers continue to struggle with. In fact, a survey conducted by 2015 Gallup research found that just one in four employer entrepreneurs are able to delegate effectively.
Experiencing trouble delegating is anything but unusual, but when it comes to leadership skills, a genuinely invaluable quality. Recognising the importance of assigning tasks is imperative as it minimises the risk of burn out, all whilst freeing up your own time to dedicate to more important tasks. Prioritise the formation of a solid delegation process and allow a team member(s) with more specialist hands put their expertise to good use.
What is the meaning of ‘delegating tasks’?
In short, delegating tasks is the process whereby a manager assigns certain tasks to members of their team – sometimes with the help of a project management tool. The ability to delegate tasks effectively and share responsibilities enables your company to work in a more functional and balanced way, as well as becoming more profitable. Research performed by Harvard Business Review found that by delegating work to associates, the median partner could earn more than 20% than they would otherwise.
When should you delegate work?
There are many different instances in which it would be beneficial to split workloads or make a particular task someone else’s job. For example, if you find yourself engaging in time-consuming tasks that another member of your team is better equipped to do, then it may be a sign that it’s time to shift responsibility to one or more of your staff members.
Here are a few more red flags that might indicate that some task delegation is necessary:
- You’re struggling to find time to think about the future of your business or engage in any forward planning. Instead, you’re far too consumed with mundane, tedious tasks and the technical aspects of operating a business
- Your priorities have shifted and certain tasks no longer require your individual focus or attention
- There is/are a selection of tasks/day to day activities that allow for some employee growth and development. This could be a recurring task that someone could continue to take ownership of moving forward, enabling you to focus on other things
How to effectively delegate tasks
Once you have established a delegated task, it’s time to work out how in which to delegate responsibility and achieve the desired outcome.
1. Determine the right person for the job
Handing over work to somebody else, especially if it isn’t something you’re used to doing, is something managers struggle with. However, successful delegation of the right tasks is something everyone can benefit from. Put your faith in your employees strengths and trust that the team’s output will achieve those desired results.
To ensure that you’re assigning work effectively, take the time to research other team members backgrounds. This will enable you to analyse employee strengths and determine whether or not they possess the relevant experience required to take on a specific task.
It’s important that the work you are looking to assign to someone else is not only in capable hands, but that the person responsible is genuinely willing and interested in the work. Circulate details of the job to your team in order to find out who is/isn’t interested in taking it on. Avoid delegating tasks to those that don’t express an interest in the job description, even if they have an impressive skillset.
2. Explain the specific tasks in detail
Providing you do this well, you should only have to do it once. Save yourself time in the long term by providing your staff member(s) with clear instructions of what the task will entail and the prospective ‘to do list.’ Perhaps they will benefit from a detailed step-by-step guide? Or maybe a list of tools or programs would be of use? You may also wish to supply them with some related resources that you have access to.
For tasks with a specific set-out procedure, it may be worth going through it properly with them via Zoom to help provide context. Taking the time to go through the task in detail will also help ensure timely completion, as there is a reduced chance of any confusion further along the line.
3. Check in with your staff from time to time
This needn’t be on an overly-frequent basis – occasional progress updates will work just fine. In a bid to subconsciously maintain control, many managers find themselves micromanaging without meaning to, which, albeit unintentional, defeats the object of delegating work in the first place. The main thing is that your team know that your guidance and support is available, but equally, that they have been granted more responsibility because they are trusted.
As they continue to tackle tasks, develop and acquire new skills, encourage them to take ownership of the delegated work and harness this new-found responsibility in a way that works for them. Project management plays a huge role in professional development and career progression, and it may be that there are more important projects on the horizon that would benefit from new ideas.
4. Recognise great work and reward your staff
If you’ve recently delegated a task to a staff member and they’re doing a wonderful job, be sure to make that genuine appreciation known. Ensuring that you acknowledge their efforts on both a personal level and in any company-wide meetings or newsletters all plays part in the long term success of your business. Never lose sight of the big picture.
In terms of rewards, there are lots of things you can do with this. From promotions and pay rises to company merchandise, small gifts and even an afternoon off, there are plenty of ways in which you can show your employees that their work is recognised and valued.
How to avoid delegation disasters
Adjusting to a new, more ‘hands-off’ approach can be a tricky thing to navigate, particularly if you’re new to management. Fortunately, we have some great tips to help you along the way.
1. Avoid micromanaging at all tasks
Ultimately, there’s really no point in delegating a task if you’re going to micromanage the staff member you’ve handed the work over to. So, if you feel yourself itching to take over or check in that little bit too much, take a breather and remember why you delegated the task in the first place.
As management styles go, micromanaging is arguably the worst ever. That feeling of being closely observed and even controlled by management can make staff feel intimidated and untrusted.
Micromanaging is incredibly time-consuming and very quickly decreases morale. Of course, consulting with your employees from time to time is a given, but you hired them to take the reins, so trust in the process and have faith that the outcome will be positive.
2. Enjoy giving credit (and constructive feedback)
Some managers find the act of rewarding staff members and giving credit a little bit difficult, especially if its for a project that they initially started. Learning to overcome this is invaluable – just remember, anyone in your business achieving something = an achievement for you, too.
3. Involve yourself in the recruitment process
Passing on tasks when you don’t know certain team members very well can be tricky. The good news is that if you involve yourself in the recruitment process, you will know everybody personally and have an understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, personality traits and so on.
Sitting in on candidate interviews is such a positive experience to involve yoiurself in. Seize the opportunity to ask questions regarding their skills, experience and personal interests, and really get to know them on a deeper level.
When building a successful team, it’s important to consider a broad range of abilities and specialities – in doing this, you develop a team with an expansive skillset. Remember, soft skills are just as important as technical skills.
4. Track your team’s workload
One of the responsibilities of a manager is to effectively track your team’s workload. Doing this well will remove the risk of overworking and burnout, and help maintain a happy workforce.
It’s both normal and common for employees to feel simultaneously passionate and stressed out by the work they do. Workplace Burnout Survey found that 87% of employees felt passionate about their job, but 77% had experienced burnout in the role.
Your team members may want to say yes to as many tasks as possible, but you should encourage transparency around their own workload. If your employee’s plate is full, see if you can shift other responsibilities or balance work further throughout the team.
The key takeaway
Effective delegation isn’t something to feel guilty about. In fact, the ability to assign work to someone else is one of the signs of a truly effective leader. When successful delegation occurs, an opportunity to develop people arises. Simultaneously, you will find yourself with more time to focus on other factors and tasks that may have been neglected previously.
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