Maybe you are new to a leadership role or are simply struggling with the job of delegation. As a leader, delegating tasks to others is necessary, but can be challenging. If you recently acquired your own team or just need a little help with delegation, here are some helpful tips.
The best way to describe how to delegate is with the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. To paint a clear picture, we will begin with the why.
Why Is Delegation Necessary?
Delegation has many benefits, to you as a leader as well as to your organization and your team. However, many individuals have trouble delegating tasks.
Some might think that it is easier to do tasks themselves rather than delegate them. Others may feel a sense of worth by tackling tasks alone. Still more might simply be inexperienced at delegation.
Delegation benefits managers, direct reports, and organizations. Yet it remains one of the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capabilities.
And furthermore, the time management study referenced by Harvard Business Review concluded that:
332 companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ delegation skills. At the same time, only 28 percent of those companies offered any training on the topic.
Benefits to You as the Leader
- You can direct your attention to other items.
- You can schedule your time effectively.
- You can accomplish more during the work day.
Benefits to Your Team Members
- They can learn new or enhance current skills.
- They can feel part of a trusted team and environment.
- They can improve their self-confidence and motivation.
Benefits to Your Organization
- It can gain increased productivity.
- It can offer successful processes for clients and customers.
- It can build connected culture for all employees.
As you can see, the benefits of delegation touch more than just a leader. So if you have been holding back, you are affecting your company and your team as well.
What Should You Delegate?
Now that you know the importance of delegation as a leader, the next step is to decide what you should delegate.
In many cases, the delegation of certain tasks is a no-brainer. For example, you would not assign a programming task to a sales associate. However, when it comes to your own tasks, it can be more difficult to decide which warrant delegation.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this a task that only I have the knowledge to do?
- Am I avoiding assigning this task because no one else has time?
- Do I hold onto tasks because I want to “do it all” myself?
- Is this a recurring or routine task?
- Am I really responsible for this task?
A North Carolina State University project states this in their list of the types of tasks that should be delegated:
People often keep tasks that they enjoy most for themselves even if the task is not their responsibility. These tasks are not the best way to spend your time and energy.
Once you have decided what to delegate, stick to that decision. Then, arrange your schedule and task list to accommodate the other important items you should attend to.
Who Is the Proper Person for the Task?
After determining which items should be delegated, the logical move is to decide who should tackle the task. When you are the leader, whether a small permanent group or a flexible project team, knowing your team members is key.
So when it comes time to delegate tasks, you must obviously recognize each person’s skills. But at the same time, you should know how well they perform and their record of responsibility. Assigning a task to someone you can trust with it is important to its successful completion.
Forbes offers these two helpful pieces of advice regarding delegation:
Along with trust, you also have to give the people to whom you delegate the chance to do a job their way.
Delegate responsibility and authority, not just the task.
Remember, once you delegate a task, that team member should be accountable for it. This does not mean you should walk away, but must let your team member take the lead.
When Should You Delegated Tasks?
So you know what you are delegating and to whom, but when do you hand over those reigns? You will find many variables involved with when a task should be delegated. You must consider the due date, priority, and effort at the very least.
For instance, tasks that are urgent and fall into a team member’s skillset should obviously be delegated right from the start. But those that are a low priority or that various people could handle may be able to wait.
A useful way to make this decision is to use a method of task prioritization. One such technique, called the Eisenhower Matrix, can help you prioritize quickly. Using this method, you to put your tasks into four quadrants for Do First, Schedule, Delegate, and Don’t Do.
As you review the buckets for Do First and Schedule, you can easily shift tasks over to the Delegate section. This is also a useful method for determining those tasks that can fall into the Don’t Do quadrant.
Where Should You Manage Delegated Tasks?
The task has been delegated and now it is time for you to move on… almost. You still need to track and follow-up on the task until it is complete.
You likely use several applications and tools in your position. If you have a reliable tracking mechanism, be sure to incorporate the tasks that you delegate. But if you need a few suggestions, here are five terrific options.
- Outlook allows you to assign tasks and keep a copy in your own list.
- Google offers features for delegating emails and calendar tasks with Gmail and Google Calendar.
- Trello uses the Kanban method for managing projects with features to assign tasks to others.
- Podio provides a clean comment structure for delegated tasks to keep everyone updated.
- Meistertask lets you assign easily and receive notifications of task status changes.
Just keep in mind that the tool you use should not just provide the ability to assign tasks. You should use one that offers features such as notifications, follow-up methods, and reminders.
Delegation Training Resources
If you believe that you or your organization could benefit from a delegation training program, here are a few resources to explore.
How Well Do You Delegate?
The ability to delegate to others is an important skill for any leader. And as you have read here, the benefits apply to not just you, but your organization and your team as well. This makes it a win–win–win situation.
Do you feel that you have solid delegation skills? Or do you struggle with the task of delegation all together? Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments.
Image Credits: Duncan Andison/Shutterstock