Effective Delegation Skills
By TRISOFT team
They call it an organization or team for a reason: you’re supposed to do it together. At least sometimes. Actually, most of the times :) In order to successfully complete large, complex tasks, even Super-You needs help and support. There is no shame is asking for assistance. On the contrary, by learning how to push your pride aside, you will also start showing more respect to the others and to the skills and value they can bring to your business.
And don’t forget: there is no such thing as single-handed success. When everyone works towards the same goals and you, as a leader, are able to include each of your teammates in the process, everyone gains.
You don’t have to do everything yourself
When a new project comes along the first thing you need to ask yourself is: Who would be fit to handle it? A common trap here would be to think that If you want anything done right, you have to do it yourself. Or I’ll do the best job here, so I’ll do it myself, It’s a boring job, so I’ll ‘lead by example’ and do it myself, It’ll be quicker if I do the job myself and other such ‘phrases’ that are quite popular among business owners and are a sure way to stay overloaded with work.
However, if you analyze things closely, it is only on the surface where it is easier to do things yourself than explain the procedure to someone else and have them do it. Let’s think about two key reasons that would lead you to delegate more:
- First, while by doing the job yourself, you are in control of the process and outcomes, at the same time, you are too busy to develop new strategies or come up with new ideas for the current project. Your mission as a leader is much bigger than execution of plans — it involves being a visionnaire and planning ahead and that is quite hard to achieve when you’re up to your knees in little details of every little project.
- It may be time consuming and more difficult at first, but by involving other people in projects, their skills and abilities will also develop and improve. So next time a similar project comes along, you will be more confident to delegate more to your teammates.
To conclude, it is actually for the sake of your company (and your sanity) to learn to let go. Here’s how smart owners delegate work effectively:
1. Learn to let go.
Let’s start with the beginning — letting go. It’s about forgetting the I am the only one who can get the job done properly and losing some of the addictive control of the situation. Stop being a control freak and start delegating all micromanagement jobs to your employees and colleagues. If it’s too difficult to do it all at once, start small — delegate a little, assess and if the outcome is good, then go on delegating a little more.
One thing you need to take into consideration when you manage to let go and start to delegate is that people do things differently. This means that if you assign a job to a colleague, you shouldn’t expect him or her to handle it precisely as you would. But just because they do things differently doesn’t mean they won’t do it right. Give them freedom of expression and you might be surprised to see not only immediate results, but also real overall improvement and a more positive work environment.
2. Consider the benefits.
As we said, delegation is not just about you having less workload, but also (and even more importantly) about changing the vibes of the workplace into a stronger, more skillful, happier one. Because when you give people control over what they do, you motivate them, you boost their confidence in themselves and in you, and you empower them to be a better version of themselves. It’s not about here and now, but about the future and how much your team will stretch in order to fulfil the goals of the company. And this one is on you, the leader. By delegating effectively you can become the kind of manager any professional wants to work with.
3. Set the scope.
So what should you delegate? An honest, straightforward answer would be: as much as you can. There’s quite a lot that doesn’t actually require your active involvement and can be done by someone else. You should keep the creative area of the job — thinking about strategies, making plans and sketches for future projects. Also, some very important tasks where your presence is key are to keep. And of course, as a leader, you will always be in charge of managing the relational side of your business — interdepartmental, colleagues dealing with subordinates and superiors and so on. Pretty much everything else can be done by someone else.
4. Confirm understanding of the tasks.
Once you’ve assigned the jobs, be careful not to make the mistake of assuming the employees know what they have to do. Instead of assuming, make sure they do! How? By confirming understanding of their requirements. Again, how you do that? Easy. Just ask your employees to put in their own words what they have understood. Or ask them a few questions that would determine if they indeed know what is requested of them. Believe it or not, this is a key determinant of success or… failure.
5. Don’t look for perfection.
Watch out for the trap of perfectionism as well. Remember you are rarely supposed to create a masterpiece, but rather get a job done neatly.
As the leader, you should, from the very beginning, make clear the standard of quality you want achieved and the deadline for achieving it. Other than that, allow the team in charge to decide on the steps and approach needed.
6. Check on progress.
After handing the project over to a designated team, you should always, always follow up on the progress. This doesn’t mean looking over your employees’ shoulders and watching their every move, much less brutally intervene whenever you want to make an observation. After delegating the job, you should be relaxed enough to handle other affairs, but keep in mind that you need to periodically check on things.
In order to do this efficiently, you could make a list of things to check and make sure you follow on them. Your employees need to be aware of your measurement criteria and deadlines need to be set also. As soon as you do this more often, you will discover it is worth it. It will this way get easier and more efficient in time.
7. Provide the right tools, including support, guidance and instructions.
This one is essential — don’t leave your people with only the task and a deadline at hand. To make sure the project is truly attended to, you need to provide them detailed instructions and guidelines and you need to make sure they have the physical means to sustain their efforts. It is up to you if they have the proper resources to handle things as needed.
After ensuring they have all they need, remember to keep an eye on how things are going and always be open to discussion and suggestions. It is far better to be asked a few questions in the process than discover just before the deadline (or even worse, after!) that important things have been misunderstood or neglected.
8. Always offer feedback.
Feedback should always be a key step on a leader’s agenda. No matter if you have good or bad things to say about how a task has been handled, those observations have to reach all the people involved. This is how we all learn. This is how we all grow. Negative feedback should always be offered in a constructive way and positive feedback should never be forgotten. Sometimes we focus too much on the negative and forget that a ’good going!’ can actually give a person the credit they need and deserve. Positive feedback motivates and also reflects very well on you as a leader.
9. Ensure Accountability.
Another important thing you should do for an effective delegation process is ensure the people in charge of the tasks, jobs and projects are competent and responsible for their course of action. Accountability implies regular communication and constant feedback, so that nothing is left on the outside. Remember that the delegation process is only going to become faster and more fluid if you do it on a regular basis. Like all things, it requires practice in order to get good results out of it.
10. Say thank you to the people who have accepted the responsibility.
Last, but definitely not least, make sure your colleagues know that their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated. One way to do it is by simply saying thank you for your time and energy. But there are other ways as well — like offering a bonus, a symbolic merit certificate, a day off or anything else you can think of that would show you care for their work :)
What not to delegate
When done right, delegation is a win-win deal. But that doesn’t mean you can delegate just anything. There are some situations in which you need to handle projects on your own.
For starters, you shouldn’t delegate jobs simply because you don’t like doing them or you think they are too easy for you. This might be demoralising for your employees.
On the same idea, don’t delegate what is too complex or complicated just because you don’t like getting your hands dirty anymore.
And lastly, when a project involves highly confidential information or the client requires you specifically to take care of tasks for objective reasons, then you should handle the project yourself. We will get back with more on the topic on our next post ;)
So we can say without a doubt that effective delegation is quite a survival skill for great leaders. Being able to delegate well allows managers to free themselves for more high-valued tasks and strategic planning.
At TRISOFT, delegation is part of our business as a normal, usual process. And we try to do it effectively and efficiently, for the good of our team and of course, for the greater good of our clients.