There’s something that I have never been very good at – delegating! After a recent training session on the topic, I understand the importance and necessity of the concept… but the art of delegation is definitely a skill which requires practice.
Delegating is a key ingredient in business. The very point of having a business structure and teams is to have the support to complete all the tasks required to make a business run successfully and efficiently. As a business grows, so does the necessity to delegate. My business unit at Aspect has grown considerably over the last 12 months. This has meant that my own role within the business has also expanded and, as an additional Consultant joins my team this week, hoarding work and trying to do everything myself is simply not a feasible option.
As a people manager, I avoid delegating for the same reasons that other people find it uncomfortable:
Entrusting a task to someone involves handing over control
There is an assumption that “I’ll do it better myself”
It takes time and effort up front, so it’ll be quicker if I just do it
I feel bad asking people for help
On speaking to my peers, these are common reactions, but the avoidance of delegation can be damaging not just on yourself but also your team. In turn, by delegating, you can have a positive impact on both yourself and your team.
Here are 3 advantages of successful delegation:
The effect on yourself –
As you begin to advance your career and take on additional projects, it is impossible to juggle all of your responsibilities. Too much work, not enough time, and unnecessary stress is not pleasant for anyone – including your teammates who have to listen to you sighing every 10 minutes! Whilst the delegation of some of your tasks may take time and effort initially, it will save you time in the long run and allows you to focus on the, more important aspects of your role.
The effect on your team –
Entrusting someone with a task, that you would have ordinarily done yourself, demonstrates your confidence in their ability. It also allows others to develop new skills, take on greater responsibility and accountability, and ultimately grow in their own career.
But delegating doesn’t mean just throwing a task someone’s way and expecting a certain result. It’s a process which you may need to repeat until the person you’re delegating to has developed the necessary skills in order to assume full responsibility to deliver the task successfully.
The effect on the organisation –
Pushing work as far down the hierarchy enables the business as a whole to grow and expand. Decision making is quicker because it is shared at all levels.
Here’s 4 tips for successful delegation:
You need to first decide what task is appropriate to delegate, and who you should delegate to. Some tasks may be business critical, with zero room for error, and should actually be done by yourself.
When you do decide a task is appropriate to delegate, think about what time you have, and leave enough time for mistakes and the possibility of a back-and-forth on the first go. Select who you are confident will be self-motivated,, will enjoy the increased responsibility, and who has the capacity to complete the task. Learning the strengths, weaknesses and motivators of your team will help you to delegate appropriately.
Explaining the detail of a task face to face is preferable, allowing questions as you go along. Be clear on your expectations, timeframes and what you need the person to deliver. Providing tools, templates and examples will help. Sending a follow up email with guidance, expectations time-frames, and support is more likely to produce the result you want.
Check in, but don’t micro-manage:
Don’t be overbearing! This will send the message that you don’t trust the person to complete the task. If you have given a timeframe to complete the task, decide on your check-in points to ensure they’re on the right track and leave it at that.
You need to remember that the task may not be completed to the standard you would like on the first go. But spending the time to review, give feedback and how to improve next time will help you in the long run.
However uncomfortable the process, it’s important to remember that delegating is a key ingredient to a successful business. Like many companies, we have started planning for the new financial year. If you too have started considering the next step in your role, I encourage you to think about what you can do to step up and take tasks off your manager so that he/she can concentrate on wider business matters, and what tasks you can then delegate to your team… and practice!