Regardless of whether you are trying to grow a small business, own a multi-national corporation or work as an employee (whatever your level), the art of delegation is a survival skill that you should try to master as early on as possible.
Notice I’ve said, survival skill??
Am I exaggerating?
No, I’m not.
If you intend to grow as an organisation or as an individual, then the art of delegation is a skill that you simply can’t do without.
This isn’t a revelation; the art of delegation is an old classic in the business world. I’m sure many of you have read books or been to talks on how to delegate effectively, so basically what I’m about to outline isn’t new.
However, having worked for both brilliant and awful people and having managed people (and made lots of mistakes), I’m happy to identify the absolute best 10 tips for delegating effectively.
Here we go:
- Make sure that the task you intend to delegate sits within the job description of the person you are delegating too. This is one of the most common mistakes I see happening. For example, delegating complaints management to your Marketing Manager. Take a step back and ask yourself “is this reasonable for x to do?”
- Assess the current work load of the person you wish to delegate too before delegating to them. All too often, you will encounter push back and be told by that person that they are too busy to take on additional task. Are they? If they are, can you remove something else from them? Or can you delegate the task to someone else? OR should they have spare capacity? Basically, be confident that your confident that they have the capacity to do the delegated task.
- Assess the needs of the person you’re delegating too and adapt how you intend to relay / delegate the task to them accordingly. Stating the obvious, but some people will need more hand holding than others just because they do. Don’t bury your head in the sand about this, make sure you’re prepared to put in more work on the hand holding where appropriate.
- Be 100% clear on the objective. What exactly do you need them to achieve? Once you’re clear on the objective, then it’s time to call a meeting and relay the new task to them.
- Don’t micro manage. Be clear on the objective, but not on the details of how to reach the objective. It may be that the new task needs training or instruction, that’s fine, but let them take the initiative to bring this up / arrange. This is the start of you letting go and trusting that something can be done without you. Start now. You can ask them what help they think they will need to get up to speed?
- Agree on timescales / frequency of the job as appropriate. How long do they think they will need to get up to speed before you hand over fully? Or is it an immediate thing? If it’s a one-off project, when do you need the job to be completed by? Also, if a reporting process is needed back into you or the business. If it is, tell them. How often?
- Ensure at the end of the meeting that they are clear on exactly what you expect from them? You may wish to ask them to repeat back what you need them to do (although this can sometimes be patronising) or simply ask them if they are clear? A good idea is to ask them to come back to you with a list of queries in a few days if they have any.
- Follow up after the meeting with an email outlining what you’ve delegated to them. You may wish to add more detail here on procedures / additional resources. If appropriate, you may also need to make a formal announcement to the rest of the company that they are taking over the job with immediate effect or from x date.
- When the task has been completed or is on-going, check in for a full debrief. How did it go? How are they finding it?
- WARNING: The job probably won’t be done as good as you do it at the beginning, but give them time to get up to speed. Also, mistakes are going to happen, it’s part n parcel of the delegating process and when a mistake does happen, don’t automatically go into admonish mode. Don’t automatically assume the task can’t be delegated to someone else.
I was once told that a good boss has a clear desk with nothing to do because they have delegated effectively to their team.
I agree with this sentiment (ish) and to some extent this should be the goal you’re heading towards, particularly if you run a company.
Delegation is definitely a skill however, that depends on a great many factors and can take a while to get right.
Don’t worry, it will come with practise and common sense.
I hope this has helped you.
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