Delegating tasks – when and how to do it?
September 3, 2021
While some managers find delegating tasks to take too much time and attention, the process has many advantages. Sharing work between employees helps leaders identify which person is best suited to specific assignments or types of projects. It’s also a chance to express respect to the skills of the subordinates. If you do it correctly and effectively, you will excel as a leader and find your coworkers happy, engaged and much more productive.
In the workload of managers, especially new ones, there are likely to be tasks they have to do on their own and ones they should delegate. Problems arise when leaders are unsure which tasks to delegate.
Managers often mistake delegation for passing off work, writes Harvey Mackay, founder of MackayMitchell Envelope Co.
So they don’t do it, and they wind up wasting their time as well as the company’s time and resources. Delegation can be a chance to make workloads more manageable, but more than that, it can provide really valuable teaching opportunities for your employees, he adds.
Table of Contents:
What is tasks’ delegation?
Delegating is one way of dealing with a large number of tasks. It means transferring the rights to perform a specific activity to another person. Thus, the delegating person always takes full responsibility for the given task.
Task delegation has many evident benefits. Above all, it saves time and allows the delegators to focus on tasks with higher priority or those only they can do. If there is, for example, an expert in the team, it is worth taking advantage of one’s knowledge and skills, thus increasing the overall efficiency of work. And when employees know that the delegator trusts them enough to hand over an important task, it increases their motivation to get the job done.
Advantages of delegating tasks
- teaches better work planning;
- has a positive effect on team relationships;
- brings out the skills of every employee;
- allows to work more effectively and achieve better results;
- can reduce the workload;
- builds responsibility and trust;
- develops new skills and knowledge;
- helps team members with their professional development.
Also, according to Dr Scott Williams, professor of management at Wright State University, employees who feel that they are trusted and respected tend to have a higher level of commitment to their work, their organization, and, especially, their managers.
When to delegate?
Delegation is beneficial to both parties when done correctly, but it doesn’t mean you can and should delegate everything. There are substantial questions to ask yourself to determine when entrusting someone with a task is effective.
Questions to ask before delegating:
- Is there someone else who will do the task better because has the necessary knowledge or information?
- Can the task be the opportunity to develop another person’s skills?
- Will the task be repeated in a similar form in the future?
- Should you delegate? Or is the task critical to long-term success and really requires your attention?
- Do you have enough time to delegate work successfully? You should consider time for training, Q&A, progress checks, etc.
If you answer “yes” when deliberating on a particular task to most of the above questions, it is worth delegating that assignment.
Who can delegate?
While it seems that delegating is the domain of leaders, any employee, even a freelancer, can ask for help from someone who feels more confident on a particular topic.
Even being the most independent person in the world you sometimes need help and support. Discard pride and show respect for other people’s talent and the value they can bring to the team.
Remember, there is no such thing as 1-person success.
When you include and acknowledge everyone, you lift yourself, your teammates and fans to higher heights. In addition, do not be afraid that your team, supervisor or client will receive the delegation unfairly. For a leader, the commission is essential because nobody should do everything on their own. It is not a sign of weakness but rather strength and top-end management style.
One study found that 53% of business owners believe they can grow their business by more than 20% if they just delegate 10% of their workload to someone else.
How to effectively delegate tasks
Delegating is an art. To delegate effectively, select the appropriate tasks to delegate, identify the right people, and delegate suitably. Here are 9 points that will help you successfully delegate tasks:
1. Define tasks carefully
Carefully analyze the tasks you perform, paying attention to the type of tasks and the time spent on them. It is worth dividing them into categories – this will exclude functions that must remain in the scope of your duties. In addition, you can divide the tasks into difficulty levels; it will ease the process of finding a fitting person to do them.
Think about what jobs you need to do on your own due to your expertise in that area. Then consider what tasks can be delegated.
2. Analyze whether delegating defined tasks makes sense
First of all, pay attention to the time they take as the time spent on appointments or the costs incurred may become disproportionate to the benefits obtained.
The best way to find the right tasks for delegation is to answer the question: which tasks take too long, and someone could do it better and faster? However, be cautious, it’s not best to delegate tedious tasks or ones that you dislike. Although, of course, it may turn out that someone else might love to do them and will gladly take them over.
You can outsource intricate work to someone who will do better than you. And the ones that are easy for you will be perfect for someone who is learning. Then the less experienced person can learn new skills and this way you will drive his/her personal development.
3. Select the appropriate person for the task
Part of being a good leader is understanding your employees’ strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
When assigning a task, take into account each person’s competencies and skills, interest in a given job, and current workload. Learn about their success story on similar schemes – how they work with others, when they do their best, and how well they work under pressure. If you want to entrust a task that requires a lot of teamwork, don’t delegate it to someone who prefers to work alone.
If you are unsure who is the best fit for a given role, talk to your coworkers. Show them the list of tasks you need help with and ask who would like to take them over. If you are a team leader and allow people to choose according to their preferences, you will show that you rely on them. In addition, it’s a great way to build trust and commitment among your team members.
When people follow you because they have to, they only fulfill their duties. But when people follow you because they want to, they do their job and take their own initiative. And they are much more productive and responsible.
4. Give employees the authority
Each delegated task must be accompanied by a delegation of authority – that is, responsibility and resources necessary to complete the job. Authorization may include allowing an employee to spend money, seek help from others, or represent a department or company.
Managers who fail to delegate responsibility in addition to specific tasks eventually find themselves reporting to their subordinates and doing some of the work, rather than vice versa, writes Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals.
5. Explain your decision
Clear communication is critical in the delegation process. If you delegate a task to someone, it will be beneficial to give context as to why you are entrusting him with this responsibility.
When you select people to delegate to, tell them why you chose them specifically and how you hope to see this help them grow, says Alex Cavoulacos, founder of The Muse. Help them see each delegated task as an opportunity to take on more responsibilities or grow new skills.
In short – show that the person you choose is best suited to a task by providing specific arguments – they have the expertise thanks to which they will do a better job, they will be able to develop new skills, etc. Try to help them see each task as an opportunity to develop new skills. Show that you believe in their capabilities and trust they do their best.
6. Give clear instructions
Any good delegator should provide basic and essential information, indicating the exact scope of a task and a deadline. It is the most important part of delegating any task. It needs to convey a clear message about what to do.
So, communicate to employees your goals that you want to achieve. Share tips and resources that may be useful. If you have specific expectations about the outcome, say so.
However, let others solve a problem in their own way. Remember that everyone can have a different vision, especially in work that requires creativity (e.g. copywriting, graphic design).
As long as you get the result you’re looking for, other methods are all perfectly fine. A good solution is to create a brief in which you specify what to focus on. It will help you to avoid misunderstandings and achieve the best possible results. Make sure that the delegated person understands and accepts the obligations they are taking on.
Stephen Covey, an author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests you delegate results rather than methods: For example, say, “Here’s what we are doing. Here’s what we’re after. I want you to get the sale, instead of “Follow up on those leads,” Covey says.
7. Provide resources and training
When delegating make sure the person entrusted with the task or project has the tools, resources, and skills needed to get the job done. If not, provide him/her with a way to work on those skills.
For example, if you ask someone to use a specific tool that they have never used before to get a job done, make sure there is a plan in place to familiarize themselves with that tool first.
8. Monitor, verify and give opinions on tasks
Remember to be available to the person you delegated your task in case they need your assistance and advice – especially if they have a smaller experience in that field.
More experienced employees can probably handle more freedom and manage their work on their own. An inexperienced team member will need more supervision. There is nothing worse than a manager delegating something to such an employee and then blaming one when something goes wrong.
Monitoring people’s work will both motivate and help them spot their strengths and weaknesses. Check the work you delegated after it is completed. Always give feedback to the right person. If you think something is worth improving – say so and share your tips. Ensure you provide both positive and negative feedback so that the person understands what is doing right and what should improve.
Exceptional efficiency is more likely to be recognized and rewarded. Track when someone achieves outstanding results and emphasize it in promotions, salaries and bonuses or heartfelt thanks.
9. Say thank you
Regardless of whether any task met your expectations or was really small – don’t forget to say thanks. It can be significant to the person who has taken the time to help you. This simple gesture will help maintain a good relationship and make the person more willing to assist in any future tasks that will come up.
When someone completes a task or project you commissioned, show your sincere appreciation and point out the specific things they did well.
This is the simplest step but one of the hardest for many people to learn, Martin Zwilling says. It will inspire loyalty, provide real satisfaction for work done, and become the basis for mentoring and performance reviews.
If you delegate well, you can increase the trust and commitment of your employees, improve productivity, and make sure the right people do the tasks that work best for them. In addition, delegating will allow you to optimally use the time and skills of everyone in the team, which leads to personal growth and development to utilize the potential of the organization entirely.
Being a good delegator takes a bit of practice, but everyone can become one given a little practice. So ready to post? Take the first step in this direction and see which tasks take up the most time. You can do this with a time tracking app like TimesheetKiller – AI-Based automatic free time tracking software.
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