Smart managers look for ways to free time in order to get more done each day. Sometimes managers forget one of the best ways is to delegate. Letting others do what we feel only we have the ability to do is sometimes difficult. But to function at your greatest capacity, learn to let go.
Start the process by creating a list of all your responsibilities. Break major responsibilities into as many subcategories as you can. Review the list and check all items you are comfortable letting someone on your staff do for you. If there is an item in doubt, check it anyway on this first pass. Assess strengths and weaknesses of staff members and their knowledge level of a task prior to shifting responsibility. To get the best results match the task with their talents and skills before delegating.
Develop written descriptions of the task requirements and review this document with the person given the task. Placing the assignment in writing greatly reduces misunderstanding by both parties. Insure the task assigned is fully understood by asking questions following your review. Have the staff member re-state your assignment in their words to assure they have understood your instructions. Don’t expect perfection the first time or that the assignment will be done exactly as you might have done it. Make expectations clear, allow for growth and learning and train as needed. Perhaps there may have to be a joint effort in the beginning and you can gradually let go as your comfort level grows.
Hold everyone accountable to the same deadlines you had. Have progress reports emailed to you as needed. Place a reminder on your calendar to keep the tasks on schedule in the early delegation stages. Don’t hesitate to intervene if, at any point, you see the task will not get done on schedule. You don’t want to miss a deadline with your boss because a staff member missed their deadline with you.
Encourage staff to ask clarifying questions. However, don’t let them ask for so much advice that you end up doing the work yourself. Some staff members will do this to you. Make it clear you are available to help but completion of the task is now their responsibility. Make it clear with responsibility goes accountability.
A follow-up to the previous point is to provide the level of authority that goes with the assignment. Do they have the right to do the task without any input from you? Do they make the decision and keep you informed of what they did? Is approval from you necessary before a final decision is made? Do you simply want them to make a recommendation and you make the decision? These are the four levels of delegation and staff must know up front how much freedom you are comfortable giving. Always remember the more freedom you give, the more freedom you will have.
When performance is done properly, provide proper recognition. Everyone enjoys a little praise. When you’ve given away a task, let the person know how much you appreciate their efforts. A sincere thank you goes a long way.
Some benefits of delegating include improvement in staff morale, confidence, independence and professional growth. The workload is now more evenly distributed and you’ve started to utilize more of the talent pool you have at your disposal. You are also now free to concentrate on more important and new tasks.
Mother Teresa once said, “To keep a lamp burning, you’ve got to put oil in it.” To paraphrase her: “To keep a company growing, you’ve got to put delegation into it.” The final questions you should consider are, how well is your lamp burning and how much are you delegating?
Originally published on February 19, 2016 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau