The ability to delegate effectively is paramount to a leader’s success. Although many people assume delegating to others ultimately wastes time, it is necessary for employees to grow in their roles. Others fear losing control of a project, however this will not occur when delegating correctly.
Here are five steps to delegate effectively.
- Determine what to delegate. Start with small tasks that aren’t time sensitive or critical. The goal initially is to build trust—you want to feel comfortable assigning work to others, and they need ample time to ask questions, especially if they are not very familiar with your work and communication styles. Over time, you will feel more comfortable assigning more important tasks, and others will feel more comfortable agreeing to follow through.
- Pick the best person. You must understand individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and level of confidence, to ascertain to whom to delegate. Consider their workload—if they are as swamped as you, completing the task on-time will be impossible. Dale Carnegie’s 3rd Human Relations principle is to, ‘Arouse in the other person an eager want,’ so by stating why you chose a specific person to perform the task when assigning it, you will express your level of confidence and foster feelings of excitement instead of resentment. For example, if you need a presentation proofread, you could say, “I was amazed by the editing you did on the annual report! I believe there is no better person to review an important presentation that will be given to the board of directors next week. Are you up for the challenge?
- Set clear expectations. Provide a full description of what you need done, along with a deadline. If possible, give an example of the assignment and/or offer resources in addition to letting the employee know you will be available for questions. Next, ask if the person has any questions. Dale Carnegie’s 7th principle is, ‘Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ because it fosters trust and strengthens the relationship.
- Coach as needed. When small business owners were asked why they do not delegate in a survey, 30% felt that they were the ‘more capable option’ and 20% said that their employees ‘did not have the right skills.’ Managers ensure that they are developing employees when they delegate. Assigning the task and then making yourself available for questions enables the employee to commence learning and feel comfortable asking for guidance. Remember to be patient—time spent coaching the employee will save time in the future when more tasks are delegated and the employee’s confidence and aptitude grow. Most importantly, coaching ensures the quality of work will not be compromised.
- Celebrate Success. Give credit where due and reward the employee. A simple thank you note or buying him or her lunch shows your honest, sincere appreciation—Mr. Carnegie’s first principle, and will encourage the employee to continue to want to accept whatever you choose to delegate in the future.