Master the Art of Delegation

If you want to get more done and make your team members feel like they're contributing, learn to delegate successfully. Keep projects on schedule with these pointers on preparing to delegate, communicating clearly, and following up.

Preparation Tips
1. Think about tasks that can be delegated. Sort out the tasks that demand your personal attention from those that can be delegated. For example, putting a new hire in charge of planning meetings could help them learn the ropes more quickly.
2. Value the skills of individuals you interact with. It's possible that some of your coworkers can do certain tasks more efficiently and effectively than you can. Consider people in terms of their strengths and interests.
3. Be adaptable. Give others space to use their own methods. Though the end result is what matters, it's important to recognize and value the diversity of approaches to learning and employment. You might find a better solution than the one you've been using up to this point.
4. Consider adding some buffer time to your schedule. Though delegating ultimately results in less time spent, initial attempts often take longer than expected. For example, if this is the first time your assistant is handling a job on their own, it's important to set a reasonable timeline and give them some wiggle room.
5. Get in the habit of seeking assistance. If you're uncomfortable with asking for help, try starting with simple tasks. Find a librarian for research assistance, or establish a weekly chore schedule with your partner.

Communication Tips
1. Define your goals. Put your goals into writing and analyze them to determine whether they are reasonable and all-encompassing. Clearly state your expected outcome and the time frame for its completion.
2. Make sure everyone is on the same page. In a former life, I wrote statements of work for a federal agency. In the training we provided, we often talked about communicating and being on the same page. One example we gave was the story of a moat that was to be built around a castle. The contractor said, “not a problem.” However, during a walk-through of the project, the king became upset because the contractor built the moat on top of the castle. The contractor and the king were not on the same page; communication about the task was unclear.  The moral of the story? Have a talk to make sure everyone on your team understands the core concepts of the task at hand.
3. The knowledge you possess is valuable; please share it. You can greatly aid the success of those you collaborate with if you're willing to share the knowledge and advice you've gained through your own endeavors. For example, let’s say your organization has a long-term relationship with a client you have managed for years. In your new position, you will no longer be handling that account. When you turn the account over to the new team, why not provide them with the details you have learned about that client (e.g., they like their reports in bullet form, or they like using paper copies so notes can be taken)?
4. Always be open to consultation. As a person starts working on a project, they may have several questions. Thus, in the beginning phases, it is extremely helpful to check in frequently to offer feedback and suggestions.
5. Motivate people to take responsibility. Assign as much of the project—and the related decision-making—as possible to specific people. When employees feel that their contributions matter, they tend to take more pride in their work, which in turn speeds up the process.

Tips for a Successful Follow-Up
1. Set a date to check in on the progress. This will give you plenty of time to make any necessary revisions and prevent any unpleasant surprises right before the event.
2. Offer genuine compliments. Give folks recognition after they've done good work. Even if you can't afford to pay the individuals more, you may still incentivize them in other ways. For instance, you could give them better job titles or more vacation time. Describe the positive impact their efforts have had on the day-to-day operations of your company or home.
3. Increase your efforts. Learn from your mistakes and improve your delegation abilities by reflecting on your past experiences. Responsibility increases the capability of your organization and helps nurture potential leaders.

Delegating tasks to others is a skill that benefits everyone. By doing so, you prevent burnout and provide opportunities for those around you to develop their strengths and productivity. Delegating tasks at home or in a business can lead to innovative, improved solutions. Try assigning a new responsibility using these guidelines. The results will exceed your expectations.

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