Successful Delegation: 4 Key Tips to Clear Your Plate

Successful delegation can be a contentious topic for leaders and business owners. Even though it’s intended to make your life easier by taking certain tasks off your to-do list, it can feel like more work assigning, directing, and checking in on the people you depend on. 

Often, there are more factors behind our hesitancy to delegate, though:

  • Fear of losing control of a project , particularly the quality and speed at which it’s done
  • Fear of others doing something “better than you” and putting you at risk of being seen as an unnecessary player
  • Fear of being seen as lazy or unwilling to do your own work

Delegation doesn’t have to be scary, though! Like all things, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, so when you hone your skills at handing over tasks, you’ll find that your work quality, efficiency, and productivity improve. 

That’s a win-win for you, your team, and your clients or customers!

4 Tips for Successful Delegation

So, what’s the secret recipe to successful delegation? We’ve got 4 tips to help you get started:

Decide What and When to Delegate

While delegation can feel like an “emergency only” situation– where you find yourself overbooked and overwhelmed– that’s the worst time to hand over tasks to others. 

First, it’s unfair to expect someone to handle your emergency on a shortened timeline. If this is your first time delegating a particular project, they need time to learn the ropes, make mistakes, and try different strategies that work best for them. If you couldn’t accomplish a particular project in the timeline you’re handing down the line, your team probably couldn’t do so either. 

Second, successful delegation requires thought and instructions. Hastily handing over a project doesn’t leave time for either. That’s why recurring tasks are an ideal candidate. One-off projects might take the pressure off right now, but long-term projects afford you the time for proper training. 

Finally, never delegate something you’re unwilling to give up credit for. For example, if you have a partner meeting about the fiscal year and don’t know the data crunching that went into the final presentation, you will struggle to explain the figures. Instead, invite the team member to partner with you for the presentation. They can lay out the quantitative specifics while you focus on the big picture. 

Delegate According to Strengths and Preferences

Each team member has particular strengths, and you should be cognizant of them before delegating tasks. Asking someone who struggles to work with Photoshop to create several marketing materials on the program will frustrate both parties. 

You should also be aware of everyone’s personal and professional workloads. Asking a working parent who enjoys going to their child’s twice-weekly baseball practices to take over a project that requires staying late several nights a week is only going to breed resentment. 

On the other hand, when you keep each person’s skills, strengths, and preferences in mind, you’re more likely to be greeted with enthusiasm and eagerness to flex their talents. 

Practice Patience

Just as you once had to learn to complete a task you plan to delegate, your employee will have to do the same. There will be a learning curve, and the more grace you have during this learning process, the more confident your team member will have to undertake it. 

As they work at it with a supportive and patient leader at their side, they will soon rise to the occasion. 

Be Crystal Clear About the Expected Process and Outcome

The person taking on the delegated task should have access to all of the same resources, supports, and tools you have, along with a project scope that outlines the process and a satisfactory outcome. 

Don’t assume that they know what you want. The more straightforward you are with your directions, the more likely your employee will produce what you are looking for. 

That being said, avoid micromanaging and allow room for the person to put their own spin on how they accomplish the task. 

For example, let’s assume that you are delegating the biweekly newsletter and prefer Constant Contact as your platform of choice. If your team member is more familiar with SendPulse, there shouldn’t be any particular argument against them using that platform,

If there is a reason why a particular project has to be done in a very particular way, be sure to explain why and point out other areas where the person is welcome to make the task their own. 

Learn How to Delegate with Finesse

Tactful, successful delegation is a developed skill. Think of it as a similar process to learning how to play the guitar or knit a scarf– Practice makes perfect. 

Catalyst Group ECR business coaching services can provide the structure and practical knowledge you need to add delegation to your management toolbox. We’ll help you analyze where your current talents as a leader lie, then work to kindle your greatness. 

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