When good leadership takes shape in a company, it can be felt across the board. In fact, high organizational performance is often linked to effective leadership. Whether to grow a business or become a better leader at work, it’s crucial that you master this one skill: delegation.
Delegation usually begins with a desire to assign and entrust some of your responsibilities to others so that you can focus on larger, big picture tasks. At its core, it requires an understanding on what to delegate (who and why), how to assign tasks with clear expectations, and how to ensure things are progressing smoothly.
Sure, it may lighten your workload, but real, effective delegation does much more than getting stuff off your plate. It’s more on having your subordinates take on meaningful work rather than just short-term items of work to be done.
And when done right, they will be able to gain new skills and acquire knowledge, which prepares them for greater responsibility and authority.
Delegating is tough, but necessary. Yet, many don’t do it enough or they simply don’t know how. To know if you’re guilty of taking on too much, ask yourself this simple question: if you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your projects and initiatives make progress during your absence?
Here, we have prepared some of the best practices to make delegation a breeze for you.
- Establish a priority system
As part of the delegation process, start developing a priority system for your tasks. Make a list of your items and activities, and then section them into tasks that:
- Only you can do
- You or someone else can do
- Only someone else can do
Of course, this system will vary according to the level of effort and skills a task would require. For instance, if the given project requires your personal expertise and leadership, then avoid delegating it. But if the task has pressing priorities that you cannot handle but others can, then, delegate it to your people to get it done quickly. Items related to day-to-day operations are also good opportunities for you to delegate wholly or in part to your staff.
By doing this, it allows you to devote your time and energy to higher-payoff tasks.
- Make your desired outcome crystal clear
When you delegate a task to someone, your goal is to explain the desired outcome of the project or task as clearly and concisely as possible. It is important that you communicate any guidelines or parameters that the individual will need to take in account of as they are doing the project. If you have a strict deadline or defined timeframe, be clear about that too. Or better yet, develop project milestones so that you can check on the progress without having to micromanage.
By setting expectations clear from the get-go, you help them plan how to carry out the task. But more importantly, it will avoid any communication gaps and allows your tasks to be executed effectively. It’s a proactive way of doing things that your employees will surely appreciate.
- Inspire their commitment
Most people want to feel like they are making a difference, but they can only truly commit when they understand their role in making it happen.
For the average employee who is several layers down in a big organization, the link between what they are doing and the success of the business is often unclear. They might find their contributions insignificant. Plus, when people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to put in their best—or even care.
So, once you have defined the work and ensured that it’s within their bandwidth, take a few minutes to explain how an activity or project is tied to the big picture. This can give employees a greater sense of pride, ownership, and engagement with their work.
““But I told them how I wanted it done!” will not be the reason the ball got dropped; it will simply be the proof that you didn’t confirm their understanding and inspire their commitment (1)”, says Jesse Sostrin, Director in PwC’s Leadership Coaching Center of Excellence.
- Review for Clarity
For the final step, make sure everyone on the table walks away a clear understanding of the project context, deliverables and deadlines.
A simple way to do this would be to have your employees explain their understanding of the assigned task to you. This is because many are often reluctant to speak up even if they know the job is beyond their capabilities. After all, no one would admit he or she isn’t ready enough to do something. So, do ask if they have any questions, and if they foresee any roadblocks in completing the task. Find out what they need from your end to get it done effectively— and be respectful about it.
Although you are delegating the task but be sure to let your team members know you are available for support, feedback and assistance, if needed.
As author and leadership guru John C. Maxwell once said: “If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
So, if you are serious about maximizing your efficiency and impact as a leader in your workplace, it’s time to brush up on your delegation skills. Put these methods to practice and see the difference they can make in how things get done. We’d love to hear your progress.
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