How To Delegate Effectively

Knowing how to delegate and do it effectively is more than just simply passing along tasks. Delegating is an opportunity to empower employees. It allows them to take ownership of promoting the mission, values, and goals of the organization. It also conveys trust to your team members.

But how often do you find yourself with delegation paralysis? What are the reasons you find it hard to let go?

Answering these questions and the ones addressed below will help you embrace the lost art of effective delegation. Ultimately, this helps maximize your organization’s overall productivity. It also creates an environment for increased employee engagement and improved performance. After all, if you won’t delegate, you limit everything to your capacity. This doesn’t allow your business to scale as it needs.

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How To Delegate

The first thing to address is answering the question, “When should you delegate a task?” In order to answer that, you must identify criteria that allow you to prioritize tasks at hand. Creating a standardized checklist will give you the ability to identify which tasks are most important, who is best-suited for that task, and help you answer, “How do you choose who to delegate to?”

Creating a structure for delegation allows you to see what needs to be accomplished. This provides the ability for you to see who is best suited for the tasks at hand. In turn, you are able to better identify who will succeed on certain tasks. This is a great win for both you and the employee as this empowers your team, helps build trust, and creates opportunity for professional development.

How To Be Better At Delegating

One surefire way to improve your delegating ability is to answer the question, “How do I set up the person I want to delegate to for success?”. The mark of a great leader is the ability to put team members in positions where they will learn to succeed. This requires the understanding that you have people on your team that won’t always do things better and more efficiently than you (at least up front).

However, in most cases, having five tasks completed satisfactorily is better than having one task completed to perfection. Many implement the 80/20 rule here. If a person can do a task 80% as well as you, it should be delegated. Ultimately, this is exactly the skill that will allow you to scale your organization.

Pro tip: Communicate to the team, not just the individual employee, what is being delegated, and that they are responsible to see it through to completion. You are now empowering your team member to hone their leadership skills, and you have the ability to evaluate them in a different capacity.

Effective Delegation Involves Letting Go

It may seem obvious, but effective delegation means that you are – at least temporarily – taking the outcome of a task out of your hands. This requires giving an initial level of trust to your team and giving them opportunities to build continued trust with you. This is the difference between a hands-off style of leading vs. a micromanagement approach.

Micromanagement suffocates creativity and innovation, which almost always results in decreased productivity and unnecessary tension within your team.

So how do you ensure that you lead in a more “hands-off” approach? You clearly communicate instructions (even if you think it’s very obvious). Remember mental models are at work! You also allow for clarifying questions so that the employee you have delegated to not only has a full understanding of what is expected, but knows they can come to you if needed. This allows you to become a consultative leader, providing insight to multiple team members leading multiple different workstreams.

Don’t forget to set up your employees with easy access to tools and resources that will help them succeed. This may come in the form of specific trainings (i.e. communication, problem-solving, sales training) or weekly troubleshooting meetings with you. Delegating responsibility doesn’t negate the need for proper oversight and investment into your team.

Delegating Responsibility Without Authority

Some managers try to delegate a task without conveying the actual authority to carry it out. It should be understood that this isn’t full delegation. It actually tends to breed dissatisfaction in workers, and falls under micromanagement. This is where a manager gives a task to a team member, but that team member doesn’t have the authority to complete the task without the approval of the manager.

You can get away with this style of management with junior team members. But when it is used with senior team members, don’t expect them to stick around for the long term. They will quickly understand that you don’t really trust them, and they don’t have real ownership of their work. Senior workers want to contribute the experience that they’ve accumulated over their career. They don’t want to be treated like an intern. They have the competency to do the task – otherwise why would you have hired them? The legendary Lee Iacocca said,

“I hire smart people and get out of their way.”

Benefits Of Effective Delegation

Effective delegation allows for greater efficiency and productivity, enhanced employee engagement and ownership, and the development of a pipeline of future leadership talent. Simon Sinek says,

“When we tell people to do their jobs, we get workers. When we trust people to get the job done, we get leaders.”

How you approach delegation will ultimately determine whether your impact is short-lived or long-standing. Delegate well, and you not only turbocharge your team’s success, but invest in future leaders as well. If you’re committed to the process, you, your team, and the organization as a whole will be better for it.

Final Thoughts

An organization profits when the leaders recognize the gift of delegation, and the reward surpasses monetary gain. If you can invest in and grow employees to do, in essence, a better job than you, not only will you have created a legacy for your team to replicate, but your success will be multiplied. This is a win-win for everyone!

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Filed Under: Consulting skills