This week’s Leadership Tip of the Week is about delegation. Delegation is whole lot more than just sharing in the workload and it requires more than just asking someone to do something. How well you delegate can impact not only your workload but also how efficiently the work gets done and how motivating it is to the person you’re delegating to, and, quite frankly, how well you lead. Proper delegation provides a huge opportunity for growing a team, ensuring it works efficiently and effectively and improving morale. Here are some tips to maximize your delegation:
- Determine what should be delegated – before starting anything ask yourself am I the right person to do this or can or should someone on my team do it. The thoughts “I don’t have time to delegate or explain what needs to be done” or “it’s easier if I do it myself” or even “no one can do it as well as I can” those thoughts are often misguided and short-sighted. Once you invest the time to delegate something you’ve provided opportunities to continue delegating more in the future as you grow your team to be able to do more. If you continue doing work below the level of your role, you are holding yourself, your team, and potentially your organization back. By delegating effectively you promote the growth of each. If you believe your team is not capable of doing something you should be able to delegate to them, you have a different problem to solve.
- Do not make assumptions about whether or not a member of your team has the time to do what you need or want them to do. Ask them! It’s not fair to make that assumption for them and I doubt you would want someone doing that for you. If it’s something they should be doing or want to do for their own growth, they will make it happen. It’s not uncommon for people to stretch their work out based on how much time they have so they have opportunities to work more efficiently. At times you may have to help prioritize or reshuffle some work but the efforts will be worth it.
- Delegate immediately even if it’s not due immediately so the individual delegating to can work it into their time management plan. Waiting till the last minute to delegate something is a great way to frustrate your employees.
- Provide the background including the purpose, audience, and expected outcome. This will allow them to better make assumptions about how to complete it without asking more questions later. For example, if you’re asking someone to find information, do you just need a quick answer or PowerPoint presentation? Make sure the expectations are crystal clear and ask open-ended questions to confirm understanding. Like, what questions do you have? What are you unsure about?
- Before providing a deadline, ask the person delegated to when they can expect to have it completed. Often times they will come up with an earlier day or time than you expect but are more likely to own the deadline because they created it. If they come up with a deadline too late, discuss priorities and options to get it completed on time. The agreed upon deadline should be specific. Don’t use ASAP. What does that mean? Drop everything? In an hour? End of day? End of week? The term ASAP has different meanings for different people and under different circumstances so be clear – what day and what time.
- If you’re delegating a long project, schedule check-in days and times to check progress, answer any questions and reinforce expectations
- Finally, follow through on deadlines consistently. If you let deadlines slide without follow through it can give the perception that it wasn’t important to begin with or doesn’t have much value, and going forward deadlines will be taken less seriously expecting there to be flexibility.
Delegation is an important skill for leaders but needs to be done right. Take the time to delegate properly and the effort will be pay back in spades. Stay tuned and follow me for more Leadership Tips of the Week.