Mastering the Art of Delegation

Delegating can be daunting, especially if you’re used to managing certain tasks or projects yourself. Sometimes, it can be hard to just ‘let go’ of control and put your trust in other people out of fear that things will take longer or more mistakes will happen. But the art of effective delegation is all in the communication.

A common misconception of delegation is that “It will take me longer to brief my team than it’ll take me to do it”, but in reality, this is very rarely the case. The delegation meeting should take no more than 30 minutes – and most jobs take many hours/days to complete. Successful delegation frees up your time to focus on other priorities, and it improves the team’s skills and capability.

Another popular myth is that: “The job won’t be done as well as if I did it myself.” But you’ll find that actually, as two people are now involved in the process, the result is often much better – remember the old adage: ‘Two minds are better than one’.

So, how do you master the art of delegation?

  • Define the task

Be absolutely clear about the task that you’re delegating. It’s worthwhile spending fifteen minutes typing out exactly what you want them to do. This will be time well spent (however swamped in work you might be!)

  • Select the individual

Make sure you’re delegating the right task to the right person. Can they do what’s required?

What are they going to get out of it personally and professionally?

  • Assess ability/training needs.

How much confidence do they have in delivering a great result? What do they need from you to get going?

  • Empower them to do the task

Position the task so they feel that they are getting a reward (not a punishment!). Consider using a status meeting to ask what jobs people would like to take on.

  • State the required results

Be specific about:

  • The measurable objectives.
  • The key performance indicators.
  • Deadlines/timescales.

Delegate the end result, not necessarily the way to achieve it. Only offer guidance on how you’d approach it (if asked). This way, you’re empowering the team to find solutions and answers themselves.

  • Consider what resources are required

Agree what resources from other departments they’ll need to get the job done.

  • Get their commitment that they can meet the specified deadline.

If they feel empowered and you give them ownership of the job, you’ll get the most out of them. Consider if they should supply you with a plan of action for approval? Agree a status meeting on the project and, until then, try not to interfere!

  • Support and communicate

Give them the necessary authority – as appropriate, but ensure that you’re available and approachable so that they can come to you for support/input/clarification.

  • Feedback on results

Agree an evaluation meeting once the job is complete to discuss how the task was managed.

  • Let go!

Don’t check every five minutes to see how the team is getting on. Micro managing is never conducive to productivity, it’s actually counter productive. Yes, you’ll want regular updates, but if you have too many of them the team will spend all their time preparing updates for you, not doing the actual work….

Final thoughts

Don’t delegate by email, and avoid the telephone where possible. Both can cause resentment, confusion and misunderstandings. It’s important that you manage expectations from the start – be very clear what you expect and when you expect it. Even if you have to brief the team three times to achieve clarity, do so! If this also means putting a little pressure on the team, that’s good. It’s how people find a sense of accomplishment, find new and creative ways of doing things and develop new skills. However, whilst pressure is good, stress isn’t – so it’s important to ensure the team feels in control. Effective delegation and communication gives them control and avoids stress.

And remember…never delegate the blame, delegate the praise! You’re always responsible for the outcomes of your team. Praising your team strengthens you, because it builds loyalty, trust and respect from your team. It also shows your superiors and colleagues that you’re an astute and effective manager. By delegating praise you attract praise to yourself!
Delegating effectively with help from Ripley Training

At Ripley, we run a number of leadership and management courses which help improve your management, delegation, and team leadership skills. To find out more, why not give us a call on 01423-861-122? Or fill in our short contact form – we’d love to help you!

by Mike Smith