Delegation is not a bad word, but sometimes it can feel like it if you are a coach. It definitely gains some eye rolling when we mention it to leaders we are coaching. In today’s covid environment, we have found that some leaders are struggling to delegate to their staff. The reasons vary from ‘my staff is already too overwhelmed’ to ‘I am too busy to train someone on this now.’ Either way, we find that it is being pushed far down on most leaders’ to-do lists.
There are several benefits to delegation including providing more time in your day, developing your staff and gaining more strategic thinking time. As a leader, effective delegation is a must if you want to be promoted again. If you find your to-do list growing alarmingly long, however, it’s time to take a look at how you’re delegating tasks and responsibilities to your team members.
As we climb the organizational ladder, our responsibilities change from less emphasis on the daily operational tasks to more emphasis on leadership tasks such as managing, planning, and leading. Getting bogged down in the day-to-day operational tasks is one of the primary downfalls of many supervisors.
The down sides of not delegating are:
- It will affect the ability of your team to promote – If you are not delegating routine tasks to your team members, you are not preparing them for the next level or developing them as leaders or effective employees
- It will limit the band width of your team – if you don’t develop your team and delegate, your team won’t be able to operate effectively when you, or another critical team member, is out. Delegation is a form of cross-training that will strengthen the depth of your team
- It will hold-up communication – If you are the one with all the answers, and no one else has the answers, you are never going to be able to take a real day off and everyone will always be waiting for you. If you want to lighten your inbox, delegation will help.
- It will hold up the process of the department – if your team has to go to you for most decisions, tasks and results, you will not be able to keep up, or be effective as a leader.
- It communicates to your staff that you don’t trust them – delegating show of trust in your employees. By delegating, you are showing them that you trust and believe in their abilities
- Innovation will start and end with you – If you are not delegating, you are not gaining ideas of your employees.
- You are going to demotivate your top performers – Some of the things that demotivate the most engaged employees is lack of development opportunities (delegated tasks), lack of participation in decisions (delegating), lack of recognition, and lack of accountability to name a few.
Effective delegation is a key to the success for you as a leader, your department and your staff. If you are not sure how to even start delegating, below are some quick steps:
Start Small – If you are new to delegating tasks, start with a small project and then build from there.
Plan it Out – Delegation takes pre-planning to start in most cases and is a reason some leaders state as why they don’t. But if you think about the amount of time it takes you every day, then know, you will get that time back for more important tasks once you have delegated it.
Explain the Overall Goal and Purpose – You’ll find you get better results if you begin by explaining the big picture, the overall purpose of the task, prior to the small details and specific how-to’s of the task. When employees understand the overall goal, they can make better decisions.
Outline Expected Results – Once the employee understands the overall goal and importance of the task, they then need to know exactly what is expected. Don’t get this important step confused with the next step, describing the task. Ensure both you and your employee see the same end result and agree on when that result can be expected.
Discuss Available Resources – To do the job effectively, employees need to know what resources are available to them to get the task accomplished.
Confirm Understanding and Get Commitment
This is where you make sure that you made yourself clear. Ask your employee to restate what is expected in their own words. This will get the employee involved and ensure you are both on the same page. Lastly, ask the employee for their commitment to completing the task within the agreed-upon time frame. Without commitment, the task may not get done.
Ask for Ideas – One of the best ways to empower and motivate your employees is to ask for their ideas. When employees are given the opportunity to provide their own ideas, they take more responsibility for the completion of the task.
Establish a Follow-Up Plan – One way to stay in the loop is to schedule follow-ups at certain completion steps throughout the task. Make a note in your calendar so that you don’t forget. Be careful not to micromanage, and give the employee room to grow.
Effective delegation ensures that you can spend your valuable time and energy focused on the actions that will bring you and your team closer to the realization of your leadership vision. It is the key to your success and ultimate upward mobility.
Let go and delegate the routine types of tasks. Trust your people. The more you show trust in your people, the more trust your people will show you in return. Most people, when given responsibility, will do a great job.