Delegating effectively – part 1

Every manager needs to learn how to delegate effectively to be successful. Martin Zwilling comments that while some people find delegating easy, most of us struggle to get this important management skill right.

He refers to Jan Yager’s time management self-improvement program, Work Less, Do More, discussing ways to improve your delegation skills, including:

Choosing what tasks you are willing to delegate and the right person to delegate each one to;

  • Giving clear instructions, including a definite completion date;
  • Delegating responsibility and authority, not just the task;
  • Trusting those to whom you delegate; and
  • Giving public credit when your staff succeed.

Zwilling also suggests you delegate tasks you are not suited to, for example those which require particular technical expertise. Yager writes, “Delegating the right task to the right person at the right time is key to growing your business and increasing your productivity.”

Mind Tools has a terrific article about delegation. They ask, since “Delegation is a win-win when done appropriately…”, why don’t people delegate? They suggest people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort. However, “Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization.”

  • They provide a checklist to help you decide when to delegate:
  • Is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success, such as recruiting the right people for your team, genuinely do need your attention.

Once you decide the conditions are right for you to delegate, you need to help your staff member to be successful. For this to happen, your staff member must understand the objectives of the tasks they have been given and be allocated sufficient authority and responsibility to carry them out.

Trust is important but this does not mean ‘set and forget’. As manager, your role should be to undertake regular check-ups to ensure delegated tasks are on track. We recommend setting specific milestones for this, with both times and required outcomes.

In the next post we will discuss how to follow up on effective delegation.