Like eating vegetables, we all know delegation is good for us. But we’re usually reticent about diving in. Why is that?
Delegation is quite the multi-faceted, complex engagement. Let’s start by understanding what’s really holding us back.
What We Tell Ourselves About Delegating:
- “I can do the assignment faster myself.”
- “No one is available when I need them.”
- “It won’t get done as well as if I did it.”
- “I’m not sure I trust someone else to do it.”
Why Delegating Is Actually Difficult:
- It takes some thought to find the right person.
- We lose control of the assignment.
- We have to spend time training someone.
- We may feel we’re burdening someone else with the work.
- We may be better at “doing” than “overseeing”.
The Benefits of Delegating:
- We get to work on new tasks and gain new responsibilities.
- We receive more recognition.
- It may lead us to a promotion and additional compensation.
- We’re building a stronger team with increased skills.
- We demonstrate trust.
- We get more done…and faster, eventually.
Now that we can see how delegating can be difficult (yet worthwhile), here are seven concepts I’ve learned which have improved my delegation skills.
1. Select the right person.
Evaluate the potential one or two candidates who are poised for additional responsibility. Let them know you’ve targeted them and plan to invest time in their growth. Specifically explain why you’ve chosen them. This will inspire their commitment!
2. Select the right assignment or project.
Consider the right type and size of assignment for the initial delegation project. You’ll likely want something not too big and not too small. It’s important for the individual to feel they are contributing an important element of an overall project. Take the time to explain how this component relates to the overall success of the project. Be sure to consider the assignment’s time sensitivity since you’ll need to consider any learning curves.
3. Schedule a kick-off meeting and define expectations.
When I’ve skipped this step, my delegation results suffered. Whenever possible, sit down face-to-face to discuss the assignment and define your mutual expectations. Schedule milestone check-ins and project deadlines into a calendar, and be available for follow-up questions.
4. Focus on your desired outcomes.
For delegation to truly be successful, we have to let go of “how” someone will accomplish the assignment. Instead, focus on the outcomes and deliverables needed. Nothing robs the fun out of a new responsibility like an individual micromanaging our every move.
5. Provide candid and ginger feedback.
Effective delegation is about leadership, and leadership is about building your team member’s skillset. Want to dramatically increase your team member’s ability to do the same assignment faster and better the next time around? Offer a combination of on-the-spot, periodic and post-project feedback, at appropriate times. While being candid with feedback, I’ve also found it helpful to be ginger with my comments. Being told too many cons won’t make anyone feel good.
6. Give credit and celebrate good execution.
Especially when part of the project is completed by a teammate, give credit when presenting your team’s project to your client and/or leadership on their contributions. It’s really the little things that matter here. When the project is complete, bring the individual their favorite morning beverage, celebrate with a lunch outing, or think of something you know they’ll appreciate.
7. Invest over time.
Remember how many tries it took you to perfect your system? If you invest in people with the abilities and mindset to advance, and offer them your time and mentorship–pretty soon you’ll wonder why you waited so long to delegate. (I know I did!)
Have a delegation tip or struggle? Please share your thoughts and let’s all grow together.