What Is Delegation and Why Is It Important?
Delegation is transferring responsibility for specific tasks from one person to another.
Delegating tasks to team members allows managers to focus on higher-value activities while keeping employees engaged with greater autonomy. CEOs who excel in commissioning generate 33% higher revenue and can free up their time to focus on activities that will yield the highest returns and grow the company.
Delegating work is vital for maximizing personal productivity and showing trust in team members. Furthermore, delegation helps prevent burnout and allows managers to allocate tasks based on individual skill sets.
– Can free up time for more important tasks.
– Increases efficiency and productivity.
– Delegation helps spread skills among a team.
– Possible lack of trust in the delegate’s ability to handle tasks.
– Loss of control when delegating a sensitive task or task that requires expertise.
– Communication breakdowns can occur, leading to conflict and confusion.
What stops people from delegating tasks
- Struggle to delegate due to worries that it will take more time to explain than do the work themselves.
- Difficulty understanding the priority of the work and wanting to work on exciting projects themselves.
- Feeling guilty about assigning more work and unsure who else could do the job.
- Considering factors such as alignment with team member priorities, the opportunity for growth, and the impact of failure.
- Evaluating the time needed to delegate tasks, including training, answering questions, and reviewing work.
When to delegate work
- Determine if someone else has the information and context to do the work.
- Consider if the task is more aligned with another team member’s priorities.
- Ask yourself if this is an opportunity for someone else to grow and develop their skills.
- Delegating work makes you a better manager.
- Involve team members in exciting projects.
Practice letting go
- Learning takes time and patience.
- Delegating can be difficult for first-time managers and leaders.
- Practice handing off small types of work before building up to more significant projects.
- Delegating allows team members to develop their skills and takes one more thing off the manager’s plate.
Identify work to delegate
- Evaluate the importance of the work and the implications of delegating it before beginning to trust.
- Delegating recurring tasks can help free up time for more important activities. When charging, make sure to consider the interests and goals of the team member you are delegating to.
- Also, delegating recurring tasks ensures that the job is completed consistently and on time.
- Keep in mind that achieving a good result is still the responsibility of the delegator.
- Connect work to team and company goals to clarify priorities.
- Utilize a shared source of truth, such as a project management tool, to ensure everyone has visibility into who’s doing what, by when, and why.
- Create a prioritization matrix template to help prioritize tasks.
Define the desired outcome.
- Delegating projects should have a clear context and a tie to the organization’s goals.
- Clarity of objectives is necessary, including alignment on what success looks like and a timeline for completion.
- Before starting work, employees should know what they need to complete and by when, including metrics to measure success.
Tips for managers
Play to Your Employees’ Strengths and Goals
- Employees should have goals they’re working toward and opportunities to delegate within those goals.
- Leverage the specific skill set of team members to achieve desired results.
- When employees have a higher chance of excelling, they’re more motivated and engaged, which benefits the entire business.
How Can Leaders Empower Employees?
- Leaders should delegate tasks effectively and show respect to employees.
- Communication should be open, and people should feel listened to, valued, and understood.
- Tasks must empower, engage, and encourage the person to develop while still being within their capabilities.
Focus on results
- Delegating work is not about having it done exactly like you would have done it.
- Avoid spending too much time explaining how things should be done and focus on the end goal.
- Give team members the space to develop their own process for doing the work, demonstrating trust in their abilities.
Allow for Failure
- Allow for failure to enable experimentation and empower employees.
- Perfectionists should be open to new ideas and approaches when delegating tasks.
- Delegating tasks can help create a more productive work environment.
- As a manager, you must be patient with employees who may take longer to complete tasks than you would.
- With practice and experience, employees will become more efficient in completing tasks over time.
- Think back to when you first started in your field and how long it took you to complete specific tasks.
- Employees will become more efficient at completing delegated tasks with time and practice.
- Remember that it may take an employee longer to complete a task the first time they do it.
Provide context and guidance.
- When delegating work, provide guidance on how to get the job done, the due date, context and details about the work, tools required, priority, goals and expectations of the work, desired outcome, and any related work.
- Ensure that the person taking on the task is set up for success by taking time to walk them through the assignment and answer any questions they have before they get started.
- Keep in mind that what may be easy for you might be totally new to the person you are delegating to.
Invest in training
- Investing in training team members can be beneficial in the long run, as it allows for the delegation of time-consuming tasks and builds time management skills.
- When training someone else, allow them space to solve problems instead of immediately providing a solution.
- Ask questions to prompt how they think they can overcome any roadblocks, rather than providing solutions, to help them build their own decision-making skills.
Establish a Clear Communication Channel
- Establish a communication channel to allow for questions and progress updates.
- Set up regular check-ins and provide feedback throughout the project.
- Avoid micromanaging while still monitoring progress.
- Provide constructive feedback to employees after tasks are completed.
- Show appreciation for tasks done well.
- Help others improve their skills over time.
- Ensure you are getting what you need from the task.
Give Credit Where It’s Due
- Recognizing team success can lead to increased engagement and more future wins.
- Delegating tasks and giving credit to those who achieved the work is essential for successful outcomes.
- Showing appreciation for those you delegate work to will encourage them to help with other projects in the future.
- Effectively delegating work allows other team members to develop new skills and get involved in meaningful projects.
- Appreciate your team member for a well-done job, and do not take credit for someone else’s work.
- Leaders should embrace making mistakes and use them as learning opportunities.
- Managers must develop, train, and motivate team members to ensure successful delegation.
- Everyone should be encouraged to step out of their comfort zones for innovation and learning.
- Prioritize tasks on your to-do list by skill level and importance.
- Delegate lower skill level but high-importance tasks to team members.
- Doing so will help get work done faster and with the same quality.
What Leaders Do Wrong When Delegating
- Leaders should express confidence and empower their people when delegating tasks.
- Leaders should establish a plan for monitoring and ensuring progress is made.
- Leaders should delegate higher-level tasks to help team members grow new skills and provide support to help them complete the tasks.
- Delegating work can be challenging to do correctly.
- Not delegating at all can lead to a team of unhappy employees and high turnover rates.
Common challenges of delegating
- Delegating can be hard work due to feeling overwhelmed and wanting to do everything oneself.
- Common obstacles to successful delegation include errors in the final product, overwhelming the employee, and struggling with the time investment.
- Harvard Business Review attributes a lack of critical thinking, initiative, quality, and speed as the four main reasons delegation could fail.
Final thoughts on delegating tasks
Keep in mind the higher-level purpose behind delegating tasks. Seek feedback from team members, managers, and coworkers on how to improve your delegation skills.
Avoid the cognitive trap of believing it will take less time to do the work yourself; measure the time saved through delegation in the long term.