Learning How to Delegate

What is delegation?

Delegation is providing your employees the opportunity to grow professionally through empowering them to make their own decisions in the achievement of a new task. Delegating allows you to develop your team to assume responsibility over those repetitive jobs that you currently do on a day-to-day basis while preparing them for advancement. Delegating is not doling out menial work which you feel is underneath you.

Why don’t more managers delegate effectively? First, they don’t feel they have the time to provide the upfront training delegation requires. Second, they don’t know how. Many managers were promoted because they were strong producers; delegating work and relinquishing control is a brand-new skill many are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. And third, they don’t believe their staff is talented enough to handle the added responsibility.

While delegating is initially time consuming, the benefits far outweigh the investment in the long run. You will create employees who can easily step into key roles during crunch times, confident and empowered employees who will take the initiative to get tasks completed in your absence, and strong well-rounded teams which will make you look extremely effective in your role. If you fail to delegate and develop your employees, you send the message that they are not important or valued; a recipe which will only encourage mediocrity, boredom, and turnover as they continue the same mundane jobs they’ve always performed.

Your employees want to learn and grow as much as you do. Give them that opportunity through delegating your everyday roles on a continuous basis. The more involved an employee is in the organization, the more vested they are in its success. You’re already paying for these assets; squeeze the most value out of them by empowering them to think for themselves instead of coming to the rescue every time they have a challenge.

To begin delegating well, write down every task you are currently responsible for. Next, decide which can be completely or partially delegated. Identify those tasks that only you can do such as performance reviews, hiring and firing, projects from your superiors, and retain these as your core tasks.

In selecting the right person for the job, be sure to not delegate everything to your top performers. While they might be your most reliable sources, this will only lead to resentment and feelings of favoritism from other employees. This can also fuel early burnout and turnover of your top performers. Those on the fast track to management should be given those tasks which will best prepare them for a promotion. Those with less skills and experience should be given the more routine activities until they have proven they are capable of the added responsibility.

Proper planning is essential for success. Be clear in your expectations, the parameters and guidelines, the time necessary for completion, the schedule of follow-up meetings, and the consequences if the person fails. Regular meetings will help build employee accountability, assure the task is on track, and will build their confidence as they move forward in the direction of the goal.

Once your employee has completed the task successfully, conduct a meeting to discuss the obstacles they faced and how they would do it differently next time. Provide feedback where necessary, but let them do the majority of the talking. Your goal should be to develop your employees to the point where they can train new hires in the future per your standards and expectations.

If your employee fails in his assignment, there are a few areas you should review to ensure success in the future. Did you choose the right person for the job? Were the guidelines specific and clear enough? Were you available when they had questions? Did they feel safe asking for help? Do they have the motivation to accept additional tasks in the future?

Karl Borris

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