Do You Need More Time? Then Delegate by Marcia Zidle

“I know I should delegate but: “I can do it faster…He won’t be able to get it done on time…she’s bound to make some mistakes.”

These are things I’ve been hearing frequently  from overworked, stressed out managers. I jokingly mentioned, in a recent presentation, if there was  something in the air that’s causing this outbreak of “I must do it myself if it’s going to get done right.”

Leaders, who are reluctant to delegate, can usually come up with what they consider logical explanations for their stand.  But these explanations are based on fears of letting go and of losing control. What they don’t realize is that while they’re busy “doing it all themselves”, they are falling further behind.

Of course there are times when we and we alone “own” the project or task. But how often is that the case?  The real problem with delegation I have found  lies not with the person being delegated to but rather with the one who needs to delegate.

The Fail-Safe Way To Delegate

Delegation, if done right, is a both a  time management and leadership development tool. Here are 7 tips to delegate effectively. It will make you a better time manager and a better leader as well.

1. Delegate early.
Make an effort to delegate the task early to avoid unnecessary pressure. This allows the person to better plan the task.

2. Select the right person.
Ensure that the person has the time to take on the responsibility. Assess the skills and capabilities of your staff and assign the task to the most appropriate person. Make sure the person has the training and resources to succeed.

3. Communicate the rationale.
Identify the reason for the task and how it will contribute to the goals of the company or department or team. Also, point out how the delegated task could benefit the person. Remember a routine task to you may be a new challenging task to your subordinate.

4. Set clear goals and expectations.
Be clear and specific on the parameters – the what, why, when, who and where- and the amount of authority – what she can decide and what you must decide, etc. You might leave the “how” to them if they are experienced. Or ask how they might go about handling the task so you can identify any missteps right from the start.  so you can . Confirm and verify task goals and expectations.

5. Delegate the entire task.
This gives the person the responsibility, increases their motivation and avoids ambiguity in accountability. Otherwise, different people will have different ideas about who does what when.

6. Don’t just drop it.
Request regular updates or progress reports especially if it’s a large or new assignment. That way you can catch problems or mistakes early and provide assistance when necessary.This will also give you a comfort level that things are going as planned.

7. Evaluate results. 
Did the person meet the set expectations? Did the task get done accurately, on time, on budget  If so,  recognize the person’s performance. This will reinforce both yours and the person’s confidence in their abilities. If it didn’t, then analyze the cause of insufficient performance and coach on  how to improve. But don’t throw in the towel. Remember, most of us learn more from our mistakes than successes.

Management Success Tip:

Delegation is about more than just taking work from you and giving it to someone else. It’s about getting work down in the most efficient manner using the resources you have available. Yes, sometimes  a staff person can actually get better results than you. In addition, delegation is about valuing people and allowing other to develop by giving them increased responsibility and authority. That’s what makes an effective leader.

Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?

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