The Importance of Delegation
While great project managers often take matters into their own hands, it doesn’t mean they do everything themselves. Instead, with experience, they get increasingly good at picking out the best people for well-suited tasks. Their ability to identify the positive qualities in people empowers their delegates to tackle a variety of tasks.
The most obvious benefit of delegating tasks is that it lightens your load. While the subordinates take care of the assigned operational tasks, the team leader finds time to explore or work on more crucial tasks. However, that’s not the only reward you’d reap through it. Your workers get the opportunity to acquire new knowledge and build skills, preparing them to be more valuable to your organization later on.
Not only that but it also indirectly communicates the trust and belief that you have in your delegates as a leader. By assigning them important tasks, you’re reassuring them of the respect you have for their capabilities. Everyone who knows even the basics of business management understands the importance of a mutual vibe of respect and positivity between management and subordinates. When employees feel trusted, their commitment to their work and organization automatically escalates.
What Stops People from Delegating Tasks?
Misconceptions and some widespread myths pertaining to the delegation of tasks cause many people to keep their work to themselves, even when it’s evidently inefficient to do so.
The Fear of Passing Work Off
Some managers perceive delegation as a means of simply passing work off to others, leading them not to do so. This results in a wastage of time and resources, of them and the company’s as well. Rather, it should be perceived as an opening for managing workload in a more efficient way. Delegation doesn’t signify weakness but highlights the strength of a confident leader.
Thinking It’d Compromise Quality
Managers sometimes refrain from outsourcing or delegating work to subordinates simply because they think that they could do it better themselves. It’s easy to fall into such biases when one evaluates and self-reviews his own work. This behavior is a clear sign that the manager could really use some trust-building exercises with his team and juniors.
They’re Nervous to Let Go
A leader simply can’t do everything himself in an organization. The sooner he realises this, the better it’d be for him and his company both. It’s always a testing task to let go of direct control over things, especially when the task is crucial or high-risk. However, it’s important to keep reminding yourself that just like you, your team longs for important and meaningful work to be sent their way. You succeed with their success and vice versa.
In most managerial scenarios, the benefits of delegation outweigh the risks and costs. Once you’ve understood this, you must look into professional tips and guidance on effective delegation techniques. For that area, this article has got you covered. We’ve gathered 15 best delegation practices that you can incorporate into your projects to maximize effectiveness and efficiency. So, keep reading!
1. Communicate Reasons for Delegating
When you provide the assignees some context as to why they’re being passed a responsibility, it tends to help them make sense of things. Explain to them why you’ve particularly chosen them for this task, or if it’s because a certain suitable quality they possess. Let them know that you hope to trigger growth in their professional capabilities through this project. This will help them perceive each task as a chance to learn and develop themselves, while also yielding positive results for the team.
2. Learn to Comfortably Let Go
This is definitely much easier said than done. Letting go of one’s own work, as discussed above, can be the most gruesome of tasks for bosses. Their dedication, as positive an aspect that is, comes in the way. Other times, the fear of perceived incompetence in subordinates makes it hard to let go.
To address this issue, start small in the journey of learning to let go. Begin to build a habit by initially delegating only smaller, relatively insignificant tasks. Allow your juniors to slowly win your trust. Gradually, work up the ladder and start forwarding some more important stuff their way. This promotes collaboration, while also allowing you to get to know your team more closely. Baby steps go a long way in the world of management!
3. Specify Spot-on Instructions
Effective delegation can not be achieved without providing others with basic information that enables them to carry out the assigned task in a desirable way. Managerial experts advise following a result-oriented approach while giving instructions, rather than focusing on the process itself. For instance, accompanying instructions with a sentence like “we’re looking to attract investors, that’s the main priority…” is more helpful than simply ordering them without communicating goals.
As long as the aim is hit, you’re set. Why dwell on the way things should be done, when the end-goal is the same? Tell people the deliverables you’re pursuing, and let them work things out their own way. Micromanagement is never a good idea in the delegation – this will be discussed in detail in the latter part of the prose.
4. Arrange and Categorize Priorities
Each different task requires varying levels of effort and skill. Based on these factors, a manager should develop a precise priority system to categorize the importance of tasks. This system would depend on the industry, the typical tasks handled by a manager, and his level of expertise.
Maintaining at least four segregated categories is advisable. The tasks requiring the most skill should rest at your own personal table. However, other tasks requiring the lowest degree of skill and experience can be delegated to subordinates without a second thought. As a general rule of thumb, a manager should consider personally performing tasks that require more skill, but less effort.
5. Play to Your Workers’ Strengths
A good leader knows each teammate well, including their particular strengths and weaknesses. Preferably, you should have an idea of their performance potential with respect to a certain project at hand. Before making the decision of delegation, look into the team members and analyze their skill range. Assign tasks to people according to their areas of expertise. For tasks involving a variety of skills, build teams and assign appropriate roles to maximize efficiency. Focus on assigning tasks to particularly ‘capable’ workers, rather than ‘available’ ones.
6. Arrange Resources and Training Facilities
Without proper tools and ingredients needed to complete a task, even the most efficient of delegates are set-up for failure. As a manager, ensuring appropriate and sufficient resources falls into your list of responsibilities – unless you delegate that too. You’re also meant to guide them and lead by example. A popular training saying goes like “I do, we do, you do”. Once they’ve watched you do it, they’ll know what the expected and ideal formats they need to follow.
Moreover, it’s necessary to understand and address problems that delegates may face in a task. For instance, if you’re requiring your team to use certain software that they’ve never used before in order to complete this task, they’re cluelessness is inevitable. You must arrange a brief training session for them to become sufficiently aware of how to use the software. They must know what they need to know before they do what they need to do.
7. Delegate the Authority
Ever been in a situation where you’ve been assigned a task, but aren’t completely allowed to make decisions independently? The project progress needs to pause to get confirmations, approvals and green-lights from seniors. Subsequently, the task ends up taking much longer than it should have.
To solve this issue, managers must learn to delegate authority along with the responsibility. Promote a healthy, positive environment that enables your delegates to feel safe while making decisions. However, keeping a check over them and reviewing progress reports from time to time is always an appropriate safeguard.
8. Always Include Helpful Guidelines
To an experienced manager, the procedures and steps to take may seem to be too obvious to mention. However, they might feel that way only because they’ve performed similar assignments countless times. The junior subordinates might not have such exposure and experience, and this makes it important to include helpful guidelines alongside instructions. In any way possible, if your knowledge can make things simpler for your delegates, it’s worth communicating. Not only will this result in improved results for you to see, but your employees will also appreciate it.
9. Say Yes to Teaching New Skills
Many times, a manager decides against delegating work simply because a certain type of required skill lacks in all of the team members. This, however, shouldn’t be seen as a deal breaker for delegation. Skills are learnable, and some require much less time and effort to acquire than you may perceive. Do not be afraid of having to teach a thing or two to your subordinates as part of the process. The first batch may take a bit longer as the team learns, but eventually, the system will get going. The time you spent teaching them will pay off, and it’ll all be worth it eventually. Again, having trust in your delegates is immensely important. Which brings us to our next point…
10. Trust, but Confirm
Once you’re done delivering all the vital instructions, guidelines, and tips, the next step is to trust them with their ways. Let them approach the project according to their best judgement. However, lack of experience does bring a window of error along with it. It’s best to occasionally get a bird’s eye view on how the task is progressing, and whether everything is on track. Occasional verification emails and checks are healthy components of effective delegation.
11. Don’t Micromanage the Team
Micromanagement from the manager in every little aspect of the project is possibly the most destructive practice that could occur in the delegation. It not only wastes the leader’s time and energy but also irritates the subordinates, giving rise to ineffective behavior.
12. Perceive from Their Standpoint
It always helps to temporarily envision things from the perspective of your delegates. What tasks would you have liked to be assigned if you were in their position? What opportunities would you be looking for? Understand that being exposed to responsibility is imperative for your subordinates’ growth and learning. You and your organization will eventually benefit from their skill development. Effective delegation focuses on helping them every step of the way.
13. Manage by Exception
Wherever practicable and possible, managing by exception is advisable. It means that the assigned subordinate doesn’t necessarily have to report updates back to you if everything is going okay. In this setting, the underlying assumption is that the project is progressing according to expected and planned outlines unless reported otherwise. Hence the name ‘managing by exception’.
This can work as an incredible management tool that saves a significant amount of time. With more trusted employees, who have already proved their mettle in previously delegated assignments, consider managing by exception to boost efficiency.
14. Make Use of Feedback Loops
Feedback is a vital part of any delegation process, no matter how experienced the assignee is. It’s possibly the most powerful tool in the hands of a manager when it comes to improving, amending, or appreciating the delegate’s work. It swings both ways. If a certain subordinate has exceeded your expectations on a task, they must be made aware of this publicly.
Praising them genuinely in front of their colleagues will not only be a great reward for their efforts, but it’ll also motivate others to follow their footsteps. On the other hand, when employees fall short, a bit of constructive criticism (in private) goes a long way. Let them know where they’re messing up, and what helped you overcome it in your own learning stages.
15. Say Thank You
Never take the heartfelt efforts of your team for granted. Yes, they’re being financially compensated for their work, but work ethics exist for a reason. Business behavioral studies suggest that showing sincere gratefulness for the hard work of employees encourages them to do even better next time. Even if they’ve made mistakes, correct them and reassure them about your trust in their capabilities. Notice and compliment the positive results they’ve achieved through the project, while also constructively correcting their shortcomings. This may seem like overdoing it, but it’s only going to help you yield better results in the long run.
Delegating definitely isn’t as easy as it sounds. While its purpose is to make the manager’s life easier, it comes with challenges of its own. However, the earlier you start, the faster you’ll gather the experience to carry it out successfully. The process might not be perfect initially, but each experience will have lessons for you. Make sure you ponder over them and keep making adjustments accordingly. All the best!