As you are too busy with your daily life, with the countless missions you have on your back and the teams you have to manage, knowing how to delegate is a key skill to acquire.
Not only does it save you time to focus on the most important tasks, but it also gives your team the opportunity to be involved in interesting projects and to feel more valued since they will be given responsibilities.
On the other hand, delegating is easier said than done, especially for new managers, knowing when and how to delegate is a bit of a sensitive task.
But the good news is that you can develop this leadership skill over time. In this article, you’ll find our top 10 tips for delegating more effectively.
What is delegation?
There are several definitions but the meaning is the same, delegating is simply entrusting your own tasks to another member of your team. There are several reasons to delegate, either because the task or initiative concerned falls within the competence, interest or priority of another collaborator (member of your team) or to share responsibilities.
A good manager is one who knows how and when to delegate. Knowing how to delegate allows you to save time, to focus on the work with higher added value or the most urgent. But it also allows you to involve your team in major projects.
Delegating effectively increases the team’s skills and allows its members to develop new strengths.
Another definition borrowed from Pierre Morin (Le management et le pouvoir – Editions organisation)
“Delegation is a method of organization which consists of a manager entrusting a collaborator (subordinate, expert or other) with the achievement of jointly developed objectives (participative approach), leaving him/her real autonomy (means, methods), and specifying the limits (defined framework); helping him/her if necessary and regularly reviewing the situation within the framework of clear and predefined control procedures, or clarifying the control system (in the sense of leading, steering).
Why is it important to delegate?
You know the proverb that says “Alone we go faster, together we go further” and well it’s true. We didn’t lie to you …
The main drivers of this approach are, on the one hand, to maximize the productivity of each person and, on the other hand, to show your team that you have total confidence in their ability to accomplish crucial tasks. The group is more effective than the individual; with proper delegation, you can accomplish more than you can alone.
Knowing how to delegate effectively also helps to fight against overwork and burnout. As a manager, you don’t have to do all the work, quite the contrary. You have to assign the appropriate tasks to the right people, because you are responsible for the project as a whole. In order to assign tasks to your different collaborators according to their skills, you must first determine the expected results for a given initiative if you want to improve your delegation skills.
You must be able to delegate tasks to other team members at the appropriate time if you are to be an effective leader. This is a critical management skill that provides essential development opportunities for your employees. You can develop new team skills and move closer to your career development goals based on the nature of the tasks you assign.
Why don’t some people delegate their tasks?
If you are a junior manager. It’s not always easy to know when to delegate. Here are several reasons why for some people:
- Fear of spending more time trying to explain how to do something than actually doing it.
- Lack of understanding of the importance of the work
- Wanting to actively participate in an exciting project
- Guilt about delegating extra tasks to others
- Not trusting others to complete the task
- Need to feel valued by one’s team
When should work be delegated?
There is no typical circumstance in which you will always find it useful to delegate! By asking the right questions, you can determine if giving a particular task to a colleague will be beneficial in general.
Before assigning a task to someone else, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the priorities of another team member better suited to this task?
- Does someone else have the background knowledge and data needed to complete this task?
- Will a colleague have the opportunity to develop their skills through this task?
- Will this task be repeated in the future?
- Do I have enough time to complete this task, including training the other person, responding to their requests and reviewing their work?
- Should I personally take on this work (which has high added value and is important to the company, etc.)?
- Would the success of the project be jeopardized if I failed?
- If necessary, is there enough time to redo the work?
You can delegate tasks without answering each of these questions positively. However, asking them in advance will help you determine which tasks are best to assign to your team members.
How to delegate effectively?
To become a good manager, the skill of delegation will be of great help to you, it will help you minimize your workload and allow your employees to participate in interesting projects.
To better understand the delegation process, follow the 10 tips below:
1. Identify the work to be delegated
Some tasks cannot be delegated. Strategic or business critical tasks require your full attention. Consider the importance of the task and its potential consequences before delegating it to a colleague.
This does not mean that you cannot assign important tasks to others. It may be a good solution if another team member has the qualifications, practical knowledge or skills to complete the task. However, keep in mind that you are the one who ultimately decides the outcome.
Several examples of tasks to delegate:
- Future recurring tasks : In order to produce quality work, it is often beneficial to assign recurring tasks to colleagues who have more time and energy to devote to them.
- Activities in which a team member has expressed interest: Check to see if you can assign tasks that will help a team member develop new or existing skills if they have expressed a desire to do so.
- Tasks that support your colleagues’ goals: In order to delegate effectively, you also need to give your team members tasks that support their professional goals.
2. Letting go
As a new manager or leader, you may be reluctant to delegate a crucial task to someone else because you feel so invested and responsible for its successful completion.
While learning to delegate is essential, you also don’t have to feel awkward with every reassignment. Instead, start by assigning small tasks before moving on to larger and larger projects. Your ability to delegate will improve over time if you are patient with yourself and your team. Remember that even if your colleagues take longer to complete the work than you do, by handing it over to them, you are giving them the opportunity to improve their skills while giving you more time to do other things.
3. Define your priorities
You delegate more easily if you know the priority and difficulty of the tasks involved. When the priority level is high, you (or a colleague) must do the task quickly. Depending on the type of work, you can then decide to do it yourself or assign it to someone else.
The best way to clarify priorities is to link activities to team and company goals. Once your team knows the importance of their work, it is easier for them to manage their priorities and thus accomplish the high value-added tasks. If you haven’t already done so, create a single source of reference with a project management tool. This way, you will all have a general visibility on the work and the deadlines of each one.
4. Identify the strengths of each of your colleagues
Ensuring that the person to whom you are delegating work has the necessary skills is a crucial step in the delegation process. Effective delegation depends on two factors: the team members to whom you delegate tasks must have the necessary expertise in the field, and the delegation must give them the opportunity to upgrade their skills.
To do this, you need to clearly identify the strengths and interests of each team member. In your next one-on-one meetings, ask them what skills they want to develop and what skills they want to acquire.
5. Provide context and guidance
When assigning a task to a colleague, make sure they have everything they need, including :
- Instructions for completing the task
- The due date of the assigned project
- The context, documents and specifics of the task
- Tools needed to complete the task
- The priority, objectives and expectations of the task
- Expected results
- Related activities
Also keep in mind that a task that may seem easy to you may be a real discovery for the person to whom you entrust it. Take the time to guide them and answer all their questions beforehand, in order to give them the keys to success.
6. Invest in training
In some circumstances, you may be the only member of your team with the necessary skills. Some managers believe that delegation in this type of situation is impossible. However, it is often best to train team members to do this type of work in the future, depending on your priorities.
We all tend to want to do the work ourselves because training takes time. However, try to think of training as an investment for your team, and your own workload. Once your employee is able to do the task, the time spent on training will automatically pay off. To improve your time management skills and provide new opportunities for your team members, assign time-consuming tasks.
When instructing a colleague on a task, it is important to let them solve their own problems rather than offering a quick fix. When a team member is faced with a challenge, ask them how they plan to handle it. Try to encourage them to come up with solutions and lead them to the most appropriate solution in order to help them improve their decision-making skills.
7. Prioritize communication and feedback
Delegating tasks is an opportunity to practice two-way communication. Make sure that the person to whom you have delegated a task or tasks has a way to contact you with questions, and arrange regular follow-ups, such as one-on-one work meetings, to discuss specific issues.
To improve their future work, give them feedback on their work. Ask for her feedback as well. Did she have enough knowledge to succeed? Could something else have been done to simplify the task? Again, remember that developing your delegation skills takes time, and getting feedback from others is one way to do this.
8. Focus on results
The goal of delegating tasks is not to have someone else do the same job. As long as your team member is getting the results they want, they are free to use alternative techniques.
When providing guidance to your team members, avoid spending too much time instructing them on how to complete the process. Instead, focus on the end result and allow them the freedom to choose the method that will best accomplish the task. This gives them the opportunity to improve their skills while demonstrating confidence in their ability to complete the task.
9. Have a modicum of confidence while checking in
Once tasks are assigned, make an effort to step back and let your colleagues get to work. Check in regularly to make sure they don’t need extra help, while giving them enough freedom to demonstrate your full confidence in your team.
Remember, the success of the work is your responsibility. If you are delegating for the first time, be sure to implement a review cycle to check on the work done and make any necessary changes.
10. Give positive feedback after the work is completed
When delegated effectively, these tasks will provide opportunities for your team members to develop new skills or participate in important projects. When the work is completed, make sure the team member involved is congratulated.
Cross-functional team members may take all the credit, especially if you have done similar work before. So be careful not to take credit for someone else’s work, and take the time to say how pleased you are with your team member’s work.
Not only can you develop your project management skills by delegating tasks, but you can also help your team members advance in their careers. Make sure your colleagues have all the knowledge they need to complete their assigned tasks so you can guide them to success.