There isn't a single person who hasn't faced a situation that required delegating tasks to others – whether in personal or professional surroundings.
From asking your husband or wife to take over the weekly grocery shopping to assigning tasks to your team members on a big project – even though the scope and the roles are much different – the principles are pretty much the same.
Delegation is a critical skill
Although it is often difficult to do (because it always implies giving up the control), delegation is a critical skill that needs to be learned and implemented – if you want to keep your sanity and avoid burnout.
It is undoubtedly one of the most important management skills because it requires both time management and personnel management and the ability to trust your team members and subordinates.
Why do you find it hard to delegate?
At some point in time, every manager has had the famous realization: "I can't do everything by myself", but the actual process of delegating important tasks requires some time – and quite a bit of learning.
If you find yourself to be constantly overworked, stressed out and in a severe time crunch with project finalization, we have bad news – it's probably your fault. Delegating essential tasks can be challenging because it requires you to trust others professionally, without the constant urge to micromanage their every step.
Regular check-ups and guidance are necessary, but the constant need to control every detail prevents you from adequately delegating tasks and managing more complex projects with multiple team members.
A skill that can be learned
The good news is that delegation is a skill that can be learned. If you are in a management or leadership role within the company, at some point, you have to realize that you depend on others to perform their tasks correctly and on time.
Think of it this way – if you never give them the freedom to show their abilities, you'll never discover what they are capable of, and consequently – you'll never be able to delegate appropriately.
Let's take an imaginary situation as an example – you took on a big project for an important client, and you want to make sure everything runs smoothly, and the project is delivered before the deadline. As a result, you are compelled to be involved in every single task to make sure there are no bottlenecks – but very soon, you realize that management style is unsustainable.
Make sure you know your employees
The only reasonable thing to do is to trust your employees and team members to perform their jobs – but there are a few preconditions: proper allocation of human resources within the team, proper instructions for each team and team member and setting clear expectations.
Great managers need to be aware of their employees' strengths, abilities, knowledge, and professional experience to delegate the tasks accordingly. One thing needs to be precise – delegation of duties and responsibilities doesn't exclude the manager or leader from the project; it only allows him/her to use his time more efficiently.
Proper follow-up, regular meetings, and support are still part of the managers' job, but the technical executions of every task within the project aren't.
How to become a good "delegator"?
We can be sure of one thing – delegation is a skill; we can even call it a form of art. Even though it should be in every manager skillset, it's actually not the case. If you feel like you are drowning in your everyday tasks and responsibilities, it's about time you realize the importance of delegation and start working on perfecting this crucial skill.
To delegate is so much more than just transferring tasks to another person – you are asking your team member to perform the job, but the responsibility for the delivery and results is still yours. That's why proper guidance and staff management are crucial – delegation requires various skills, behaviours, and knowledge, and it is one of the most sought-after leadership competencies.
The hardest part is, without a doubt – accepting the lack of control over every single aspect of every single task. If you don't trust your team members in their performance, it doesn't mean you should do their job yourself; it means you should learn to delegate better. Insisting on micro-managing every single task is one of the biggest mistakes in management. It leads to unproductive and unmotivated staff members – they get the message that you lack trust and don't believe in their progress.
Start delegating efficiently
There are a couple of guidelines on becoming a better delegator, and we would like to share the ones we find to be the most important:
- The one delegating must be ready to accept other people's ideas, trust them with the assigned tasks, be aware of possible mistakes, and take on risks.
- It is crucial to determine what can (and should) be delegated – and what can't (and shouldn't).
- The person delegating should be on top of the entire process – the employee to whom the task is assigned should be given the freedom to perform it, but the senior employee who delegated the task should regularly check on the progress.
- It is crucial to provide helpful instructions and set clear expectations on the task execution.
- Realize that you are delegating the responsibilities along with the tasks – trust your employees and give them the authority needed to do their job correctly.
- Constructive feedback is necessary when delegating because it's the only way the person assigned with the task can learn what to improve.
- You should see delegating as a way to learn new skills – so you can improve over time.
- Always make sure that the person you're delegating to understands the task given to them – ask them to repeat their assignment to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
To conclude, delegation is a set of skills that can be learned – but not overnight. If you want to do it right, that your time, set clear expectations and allow your team (and yourself) to learn from mistakes. If you're going to take anything from this article, remember these "golden rules":
Delegate gradually, delegate as much as your mindset and expectations allow – and when you are ready.
In the end – a great delegator trust their team, gives a sense of freedom and encourages the creative development of every individual.