“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it” –Theodore Roosevelt
You’ve got 15 hours of work to fit into an eight hour day. You could more than use some support but none of your team members quite have the grasp on the content or presentation style or nuance of those client/ internal relationships for you to confidently hand over any of those pressing tasks. It’s really just easier to do it all yourself.
Many managers are daunted by the task of delegating, either because they feel they can do better work themselves or they simply don’t have time to explain what needs to be done.
If done correctly, the up-front effort to teach and delegate can yield big time rewards:
- Workload balance—There is only so much you can accomplish in a day and only so many people you can please. Effective delegating can be the cure to balancing your workload, especially when you’re feeling stressed, over-worked or falling behind. It frees up time (and energy!) for you to concentrate on key projects that need more of your attention and focus on your own professional development. And of course, it could help reduce stress.
- Morale boost—When you show trust in your team to execute tasks you would normally do yourself, it builds their confidence and allows them to feel they’re making a valuable contribution to the organisation’s success.
- Development opportunities—Delegation is an essential part of being a leader and an opportunity to teach others how to achieve what you have. Most employees feel more satisfied when their jobs offer learning and skill development opportunities and long-term growth prospects. Creating this kind of environment for your staff is important, because it ensures your organization retains its best people and attracts more dynamic applicants.
- Contingency planning—Diversifying your team’s skills through delegation and training will guarantee there is a ready pool of resources available to lead and carry on your organisation’s important work in the case of unexpected turnover.
There are a number of ways to improve effective delegation. The key is to incorporate it as part of overall project planning, by:
- Being thoughtful about which tasks to choose to delegate. Delegating does not mean offloading tasks that you find undesirable or. Try to make sure assignments match an individual’s skillset, experience, development needs and career goals. Of course, their workload should also be a consideration: an over-worked employee will become stressed and resentful if work keeps piling on.
- Carving out time and resources for adequate training and direction. Explain the big picture and provide context, for example, how a task is related to the success of the project or organization. Doing this will allow the person taking on that responsibility to [contribute innovative ideas], rather than completing a task in a vacuum.
- Clearly define objectives and expectations. Whether it’s timelines, reporting updates, format, or anything else critical to getting the task done right, be sure to provide this input at the start. Also, make sure to offer support throughout the process by making yourself available to answer questions or give direction.
- Trusting your team. Once you delegate a task, give your team member autonomy to complete the task without micro-managing him or her. This doesn’t mean that you should give up control entirely, however; to delegate effectively, you have to find a balance between giving room for people to use their abilities and skills, while still staying sufficiently involved to monitor and provide support to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.
- Providing feedback. Following up on what was done well and offering constructive criticism where necessary is essential to a team member’s learning process. “Job well done” is nice to hear, but providing specific examples of what was done right and areas for improvement contributes to an employee’s growth as well as your confidence in relying on them in the future.
Delegating could be considered an art and mastering it will require some trial and error. Once you learn to do it well, you and your organisation will begin to reap the rewards of your efforts.
Have thoughts on other benefits and considerations to delegating? Contribute to the conversation in our comments section below.