Effective delegation is an important skill to help you free your time to focus on more important things. If you are stuck with day to day tasks, it is more difficult for you to think strategically and lead your team effectively.
However, I’d like you to stop thinking of delegating work as a way to reduce your workload, and instead, as a way to improve your team. Delegating work is not about getting rid of your most hated tasks and sending them to somebody else to do.
Effective delegation can be used to improve your team and to help them achieve their goals.
How to Delegate Work
First, let’s start with the basics on how to delegate.
1. State What You Need Your Team Member to Do
In order to get the work started and be able to hold your team member accountable for it, you need to tell them what you need them to do.
For experienced team members, you’ll likely need to provide fewer details because they already understand the work. For less skilled or experienced people, you’re likely to need to provide more detailed instructions and oversight.
2. Explain Why the Work Is Important
Leaders often miss this step. Explaining why helps to motivate your team member and show them how the work fits into the bigger picture.
Without the “why”, some team members may not understand why the work matters, and will feel less motivated to complete it.
3. State When You Need the Work Done
Don’t just delegate to your team member with no end date or time. You need to clearly specify when you need the work completed. Skipping this step means you might be in for a nasty surprise when the work isn’t finished when you need it.
Some leaders are uncomfortable with setting deadlines because they feel that it puts pressure on their team members. However, without deadlines, work has a tendency to be delayed and takes longer.
If your team member feels under pressure to complete the work, negotiate the timeline with them. Alternatively, you could get others to help with the work, or provide more coaching and support to ensure they meet the deadline.
4. Explain How You Need the Work Done
For some tasks, you might need to set parameters for how the work needs to be completed. Maybe you need a report prepared in a certain way, or there are some critical standards that need to be followed.
Whatever the case, you need to make sure you explain how you need work done, so your team member doesn’t complete the work and find out it’s all wrong!
5. Confirm Your Instructions In Writing
Often it’s a good idea to formalise the tasks you’re delegating in writing. Usually an email is sufficient for this purpose. This helps your team member go back and review your instructions if they need them.
Importantly, it also stops team members from saying “I didn’t know that’s what you wanted!?” and is a key step in making sure you can hold your team accountable.
Tip: If lack of accountability is an issue for your team, Thoughtful Leader can help. Check out the Hold Your Team Accountable eBook, for tools and techniques to improve accountability and performance. You and your team deserve better… get the eBook today.
How to Delegate Work to Improve Your Team
Delegation is not just about allocating work.
Next, we’ll look at some simple ways to use delegation to improve your team.
1. Delegate Work For Areas That Need Improvement
Sometimes managers will shy away from delegating work because they feel that their team won’t be able to achieve the required results. The only problem with this approach is that your team will never improve if you continue to protect them.
If your team doesn’t do something well enough, you need to show trust in your team by delegating the work anyway. If your team members aren’t comfortable with the work, you need to delegate and provide support at the same time.
Spending time coaching your team to produce better results is time well spent.
The more you do this, the less you will need to in the future as your team improves. Not only will they improve, they’ll begin to see that you trust them.
2. Delegate Work That is Interesting
Some leaders see their role as an opportunity to shed the responsibility for the boring tasks on their list and dish them out to their team. Sometimes this is necessary to enable you to do other work, but if you are consistently delegating boring work to your team, you can be sure that this will eventually result in motivation issues.
Where possible, you should delegate work that is interesting and challenging, even if you really feel like doing it yourself. To do this, you need to understand what interests your team members, and what their goals and aspirations are.
When you get this right, you can expect to see a lot of hard work and motivation from your team, who are developing skills they want and working on things that interest them.
Tip: If you would like more help with team motivation, check out the Motivating Your Team Audiobook, for tools and techniques to get the best out of your team members. Don’t settle for a lazy, disinterested team… get the audiobook today.
3. Delegate Work By Providing Responsibility
Delegation becomes less useful when leaders delegate the task, but none of the responsibility along with it. This means that your team is simply doing work for you, but not actually being held accountable for it. They know you will take what they have done and change it anyway before you send it to your own boss.
Getting your team to actually own a piece of work can be a great way to motivate them. Ultimately if you can give full responsibility for a piece of work to your team, they’ll need to make sure it’s right before it is completed. They won’t rely on somebody else to do it for them.
This is a great way for your team to become invested in their work, and it can make them feel like their role actually matters.
What else do you think is needed for effective delegation? Let me know in the comments below!
Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.