Leadership Lessons: Successful Delegation Tips
It is an absolute fact, even the best professional version of you needs help and support from time to time. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you need to seek assistance. You simply need to push aside your pride and ego and show respect towards the talent that other individuals also bring to the table apart from you. No success can be managed single-handedly. It’s only when you include the knowledge and skill of everyone involved that you can propel yourself as well as your team members to greater heights.
If you tend to work in a single-handed manner, you can do only a limited amount of work, no matter how hard you work. After all, as a human being, you can only work for a set time in a day. Similarly, working in a silo, you can complete only a fixed number of tasks and help a fixed number of people as well. Since the number of people that you can help is fixed, obviously your success is limited by these variables.
If you are quite good at your job, it is only natural that people would expect much more than your present contribution. This can add to being under pressure and overloaded with work. Trying, and failing, to do everything that everyone wants will result in you unhappy, stressed, and let people down.
If on the other hand you are being offered an amazing opportunity, you can find a way around this limitation and be genuinely successful. One of how you can overcome this limitation is to understand how you can delegate your work to other individuals. If you are good at delegating, you can build a robust and successful team of individuals in a short span of time. You will also be able to meet the demands of other individuals. Hence, delegation is a crucial skill, and it is imperative that you learn it.
Why People Refrain from Delegating
To figure out how you can delegate properly, it is important that you first understand why people refrain from delegating tasks. To put it very simply, people avoid delegating tasks, because it takes a lot of effort up-front.
For instance, you may feel it is easier to design and write content for a brochure promoting a new service which you helped to spearhead, instead of letting other team members do it. Since you know the material at the back of your hand, you can list the benefits even in your sleep. Hence, you feel that it would be relatively easier for you to write down on your own. However, the question that lies here is that, “Will this be a good use of time?”
While at a surface level it may seem easier to do it all by yourself, instead of explaining the strategy behind the brochure to others, there are two prime reasons why it may be better to delegate it:
- Firstly, since you can lead a new project, there are much better chances of utilising your skills for further developing the strategy. You may even come up with other brilliant new ideas. If however, you do the entire work yourself, you would fail to utilise your time in an effective manner.
- Secondly, if you can involve other individuals in the project, you would be helping in developing the skills and abilities of these individuals. It also means that when a similar project comes along next time, you will be able to confidently delegate the task to them knowing it will be taken care of well, with minimal involvement from your end.
Delegation amplifies your skills and time in an effective manner. It also helps other individuals in the team grow and develop so that they can reach their full potential in the organisation.
Knowing When to Delegate
Delegation is an undoubtedly win-win situation if done appropriately. However, it does not indicate that you can delegate just about anything. To determine when it is most appropriate to delegate, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there anyone in your team who can be given or possesses the necessary information or skill to accomplish the task? You should be able to take a call if the task is critical enough that you need to do it yourself, instead of delegating it to someone else.
- Is there a scope for growth and skill enhancement for an individual via this task?
- Is there a likelihood that this particular task may recur in a similar form in future?
- Do you feel you have enough time to effectively delegate the job? There should be ample time for adequate training, opportunities to check progress, answer questions, and for rework if required.
- Is this task that you need to delegate? In case of tasks which are critical to ensuring long-term success, it may genuinely need your attention. For instance, recruiting the right kind of candidates for your team may be one such task which you need to do it yourself instead of delegating it to others, considering the criticality.
If the answer to most or at least some of the above questions is in the affirmative, then it may be totally worth it to delegate this task. Having said that, even if all these conditions may be present, there is no guarantee that the delegated task will be accomplished in a successful manner either. It is equally significant to whom you will be delegating this task and how you plan to accomplish it.
Some of the other factors that may contribute towards the delegation of a certain task include:
- The timelines or the deadlines of the project. You need to consider the following:
- Is there enough time to accomplish this job?
- Is there buffer time for rework in case the job is not done properly the first time?
- What are the probable consequences if the job is not completed on time?
- Your expectations regarding the project or task(s). This includes:
- How significant it is for the results to be of the highest possible quality?
- Is an average result good enough for this task?
- What’s the impact of failure?
- To what extent would the failure impact other things?
Considering the Whom and How of Delegation
While delegating a certain task there are a couple of other factors that need to be considered as well. Listed below are some of the factors to consider:
- Whom to delegate the task to?
- Consider the knowledge, skills, and experience of the individual as applicable for the delegated task.
- Consider what skills, knowledge, and attitude the individual already possess.
- Consider if you have the required time and resources to provide any training that may be needed.
- Consider the preferred working style of an individual.
- Consider how independent the individual is.
- Consider what the individual expects from the job.
- Consider the individual’s long terms interests and goals and how these align with the work that has been proposed.
- The present workload of the individual.
- Consider if the individual has time to take up additional work.
- Consider the fact that if you delegate this task, will it require a reshuffling of the individual’s workload and other responsibilities.
When you begin to delegate a task to someone first, you may observe that the individual takes longer than you to accomplish the tasks. The reason may be that you are an expert in this field while the newly delegated individual is still learning the task. So, you need to be patient. If you are confident that you have selected the right individual to delegate the task, and you are delegating it correctly, very soon the individual will become competent and reliable.
How to Successfully Delegate?
To delegate a task successfully, use the following principles:
- Articulate the desired outcome. Start off with the outcome in mind and specify the desired results.
- Identify any constraints and boundaries of the task. For instance figure out the lines of authority, responsibility, and accountability.
- Include people wherever possible in the delegation process. You need to empower them to decide which tasks can be delegated to them and when.
- Balance the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. You need to consider that you can delegate some amount of responsibility, but you cannot delegate the ultimate accountability.
- Delegate from the lowest possible rung at an organizational level. The reason being that the people who are closest to the work are the most suitable for the task. They possess the in-depth knowledge of their day to day work. It also increases their efficiency in the workplace and helps to develop people.
- Consider providing adequate support to the individuals and be available to answer any questions. You can ensure the success factor of the project via ongoing communication, monitoring, and providing resources and credit.
- Focus on the results. You should be concerned with what is accomplished instead of detailing how the work needs to be accomplished. It is not necessary that your way is the only or the best way of doing the task. Empower the individual to be in control of his or her own methods and processes. By doing so, you facilitate trust and success.
- Avoid any kind of upward delegation. In the event of a problem, do not allow the individual to shift the responsibility of the task back to you. Instead, you should seek for probable solutions from them instead of directly providing them with answers.
- Build a certain level of motivation and commitment. You should share with the individuals how the successful accomplishment of the task will entail financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other such desirable recognition.
- Establish and maintain control. You should discuss the deadlines, agree on a schedule of review checkpoints, make necessary adjustments, and take the time to review all the submitted work.
If you consider the above-mentioned points before and during the delegation process, you will realise that you will be able to delegate in a much more successful manner.
Once you follow the above-mentioned steps, ensure that you brief your team member appropriately. You must invest time to explain why the individual has been selected for this task, the expectations from them during the project, the goals you have set for the project, the timelines, and the resources which they can bank on. You should also mutually agree upon and set up a schedule to check the progress of the project and share updates. You must also communicate to the team member that you should be intimated in case of any problems. Also, ensure them that you will be available to answer any of their queries and you shall be around in case they need guidance from your end as the work progresses.
It is a known fact that as managers you need to avoid micromanagement. However, this does not indicate that you should renounce control altogether. While effectively delegating, you need to strike a balance by giving the individuals enough space to utilise their abilities. However, you must closely monitor and support them to ensure that the task is done effectively and correctly.
Accepting What’s Acceptable
When the work that you delegated is delivered to you, you should set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. It is advisable that you must only accept fully completed work with good quality. If you accept work which you are yourself not satisfied with, your team member will never learn to do the job properly. It is even worse if you accept an entire new tranche of work that would need you to do it yourself. This overload of work means that you won’t have enough time to do your own job properly.
On the other hand, when a good work is delivered to you, you must ensure that you recognise and reward the effort. As a leader, you must learn to complement your team members every time that they impress you with their work. If you take the pains to recognise the effort of your team members, it will go a long way towards building your team member’s confidence and efficiency. Both of these will show signs of improvement, the next time you delegate the task. Hence, it is indeed a win-win situation for both of you.
Initially, you may feel the task of delegation to be an inconvenience. However, if you learn to delegate it effectively, you can enormously increase the amount of work that you can deliver to your clients. When you tend to arrange the workload in such a manner that you prioritise the tasks, while other people continue to work on meaningful and challenging assignments, you will undoubtedly have a recipe for success.
To delegate tasks effectively, you must select the right tasks to delegate, select the right people to delegate the task to, and delegate in an appropriate manner. There is a lot more to this. However, you will achieve so much more once you begin delegating tasks effectively.