Most of us live life at a hectic pace. We have busy personal lives, the organisations we work for expect us to do more with less and in less time. It’s not surprising that many of us are stressed out and exhausted. One area we can claw back time is to delegate tasks to our team members. Whilst delegating tasks to others has enormous benefits, many mangers fail to delegate or delegate well for a variety of reasons:
- They think they can do a better job
- They don’t want to make extra work for their already busy team
- They think delegation takes too much time
- They want to take personal credit for the work
- They lack faith in their staff
Delegating effectively will not only ease your workload so you can concentrate on higher priority tasks, it provides opportunities for growth and development of your staff too. This means that the organisation benefits from more productive, motivated and well rounded staff.
So how do you do you do it well?
Choose the right person – make sure the person you choose has the correct skill set or is open to developing the required skills. This will mean the job gets done to the required standard (even if it’s not your standard!) in an expedient manner without causing too much stress to either party. Play to the strengths of your team and use delegation as a tool to develop them further.
It’s also a good idea to tell the delagee why you have chosen them for example “I’d like you to start collating the monthly reports for me because I’ve noticed how quick you are in excel and how you organise information in a really logical, easy to read format.” This will give the person a bit of a boost and make it more likely for them to be happy to take on the task.
Specify expected outcomes – be very clear about what you’d like the end product to look like. For example don’t say “Can you research and put together a report on available options for virtual meetings”. As a result you could get a 2 page report or a 20 page report depending on the delagee. Instead, it’s better to say “Please can you research the following 3 options we are considering using for virtual meetings and compile a short report of no more than 5 pages outlining ease of use, set up costs and software specifications by next Wednesday”. If you are unclear about the outcomes of the task it will lead to a poor job from the delagee and ultimately wasted time and effort leading to demotivation.
You might also want to alert your delagee to potential pitfalls or safety hazards that they may not have considered or that you know other people have fallen prey to in the past like keeping a record of who they’ve spoken to or alerting WH & S. Stop them re-inventing the wheel if you know part of the work has already been done or there is already an existing template.
Agree a reporting schedule. This will allow you to maintain some visibility over the project without having to do it. Depending on the task, skill level and confidence of the delagee and their familiarity with the task you can agree to follow up with them daily, weekly or have an exception reporting agreement whereby they only contact you in the event something unusual occurs or goes wrong. You can also decide upon method of reporting eg. Face to face, email or phone and let them know who to contact in your absence.
Inform others – Ensure other team members/departments are aware if the task delegated directly affects them. This will avoid misunderstandings, people putting up barriers or not responding and the associated wasted time. You may want to discuss how much information about the task can be shared with others and if so, with who.
It is also a good idea to allocate resources if required eg. a small budget or specific equipment necessary for the task.
Provide feedback – it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of the delagee by providing positive and constructive feedback both during the task and post completion. This will allow you to appraise performance and therefore feel more confident in the delagee and enable improved results.
You can use a small proportion of your scheduled reporting time to coach the delagee in order that they feel supported and motivated to perform effectively and you feel confident that the task will be completed on time and to the appropriate standard.