The Art of Effective Delegation

One of the first and most important lessons that managers tend to learn within their leadership roles, is the effective delegation is the key to management success. No manager can do everything on their own, which is why being able to delegate is so important. However, delegation is about more than just handing off unwanted tasks. There is a great deal of thought and skill involved in delegation, including understanding the “when” and “who” of this process.

While there is no one-size-fits all approach to delegating, there are a few tips that any leader can use in order to better understand the art of delegation and to make sure that they can easily and confidently hand off tasks without worrying about any negative repercussions as a result of their actions.

Start With the Right People

The first and most important step towards delegating tasks as a manager is making sure that there are the right people in place to delegate to. If a manager can’t trust the people on their team to handle most tasks on their own, then they need new people. If they can’t handle these tasks, then why were they hired in the first place? When it comes to mastering delegation, nothing makes the process easier than knowing there are trustworthy individuals to handle the responsibility.

Hand off the Right Responsibilities

There are tasks that should be delegated and there are tasks that shouldn’t be delegated. Someone who truly understands the art of delegation knows the difference between these two types of tasks and understands the significance of each type of responsibility. Managers need to be careful about the tasks that they hand off and that they are focusing not just on the tasks that they want to do, but the ones that actually use their time and their skills in the best possible manager.

Delegation is a difficult undertaking and a strong leader knows which items they need to do on their own and which things they can give to others. They also understand that the act of delegation itself shouldn’t be particularly overwhelming and shouldn’t be more time consuming than it needs to be.

Offer Guidance

The phrase “handing off the task” shouldn’t be taken literally when it comes to delegation. Tasks should be appointed along with careful instructions instead of just “handed off” without a second thought. Clear and concise instructions should always come with any assignment. Those who are not clear about their expectations shouldn’t expect to get exactly what they want in return. The result will have both parties frustrated and unhappy with the entire situation. Project guidance should include:

  • The overall goal of the task
  • The desired outcome
  • Why this task is important
  • The what and how of completing the assignment
  • Specific expectations on completion
  • When the task needs to be done

This will help ensure that the entire delegation process goes smoothly and that the team member knows exactly what their manager expects from the final product.

Focus on the Outcome

When delegating a task, managers need to focus on what they want as an outcome, and less on the path that the individual takes to reach this outcome. Every person is going to approach every task in a slightly different manner. A different path to the same outcome isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to effective and efficient delegation, managers need to be able to give one of their constituents a project, expect that they are going to take their own approach to completing it and trust that the outcome is going to be what they want. Managers who can approach delegation in this manner have truly mastered the art of this process.

Communicate Without Micromanaging

When it comes to artful delegation, ongoing communication is key. No team member wants to feel abandoned and unsupported with a task they’ve been given from their manager. Ongoing support, clear and concise communication and answers to questions can all make the entire delegation process go smoothly. Individuals should feel as though they should have constant, ongoing communication from their manager, but not as though they are being micromanaged.

Delegating is all about helping managers save time by having other capable parties take over a certain task or responsibility. Unfortunately, many managers struggle with the idea of letting go when delegating and spend just as much time looking over the shoulder of their team members as they would if they were doing the project themselves.

Choose Tasks That Can Strengthen the Team

A manager should always be looking for ways that they can strengthen their team and make it a better and more successful unit. There are ways that artful delegation can actually help promote a stronger, more successful team. In order for an individual team member to grow, they need to be able to push themselves and prove they can handle bigger responsibilities.

When delegating tasks, managers need to be willing to push their team members to do more, step outside their comfort zone and see what they can handle. In the end, the right delegation of the right responsibilities can help any individual prove their worth and any team prove their strength.

With this, it is important to remember that not all delegation tasks are going to go smoothly. Some team members may rise to the occasion and exceed expectations, while others may fall short. Successful managers and master delegators know that these situations are not a reason to take back responsibility, but an opportunity to use the failure as a learning opportunity and a way to recognize where things went wrong, and how it can be remedied in the future.

The art of delegation is all about mastering the ability to assign tasks in a manner that benefits the team and the entire organization. Delegation is not about finding ways to pawn off responsibilities on others. Managers who understand the differences and who know how to delegate in a manner that benefits their company, can see first-hand just how much proper delegation can improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of any organization.

If you are serious about improving your delegation skills then download this free eBook for your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, Kindle, eBook reader or Smartphone.

Successful Delegation eBook
This eBook explains the ten rules of successful delegation that will motivate and empower your team.
ISBN 978-1-62620-982-4 (31 Pages) PDF, Kindle & ePub

You can also download our ‘Successful Delegation Worksheet‘ to help you.

Key Points

  • Many managers find themselves bogged down in routine tasks.
  • You are assigning work for which you remain ultimately responsible.
  • Increased responsibility is an important factor in improving morale and job satisfaction.
  • Be careful when delegating tasks which have been delegated to you.
  • Certain characteristics make some tasks suitable for delegation.
  • Delegate a mixture of tasks to ensure fairness to you and your staff.
  • Specify tasks properly and don’t hand them over at the last minute.
  • When passing work upwards, add your own thoughts and recommendations.
  • Forward work that could be done more efficiently elsewhere.
  • When passing work sideways a friendly note is always appreciated.

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