Delegating tasks is one of the good practices of a competent manager or leader. Unlike common belief, delegation of duties is never a sign of incompetence or weakness. It is an act of leadership and trust, and is very effective in achieving success.
However that is only possible when it is done right and for the right reasons. So why do you delegate tasks and duties in the first place?
Well, the most obvious reason is that you want something done, but delegation cannot be only that. There has to be more to delegating for it to be productive and sustainable. Delegation of tasks should be aimed at increasing the quality of work and the motivation of the worker. It should nurture job enrichment and help develop the staff through the added responsibilities.
Delegation should ideally provide you with more time to focus on other matters and in the long run gain respect from the team for your confidence in them.
There are a couple of things that you should keep in mind when it comes to delegating. You must first fully understand the meaning of delegation and truly appreciate its importance. Norman M. Goldfarb best describes what it means to delegate a duty. With understanding, you will then need to have a clearly set procedure that is going to be used to delegate tasks each and every time it becomes necessary to do so. The set procedure is quite important in ensuring smooth delegation processes take place every time.
When creating the procedure to delegate tasks, you need to consider and put the following five important aspects of proper delegation processes in place. These should give you the perfect way to go about delegating tasks and duties.
1. Outline tasks and duties that can or need to be delegated
Just like you cannot be a master of everything, you also cannot delegate everything. You have to differentiate those tasks that you can delegate from those that you can’t. This is very important because it gives you the opportunity to always be ready to pass on work confidently anytime such work comes up. You can delegate tasks generally or specifically and it can either be done verbally or in written form.
Analyze everything that you do and outline tasks that you are certain that they can be delegated without risks. There are those tasks that can pose real risks if given to someone else. No matter how easy such tasks may appear, it would be best that you leave those tasks out. Be objective in determining the tasks that can be delegated and use your wisdom and managerial skills in outlining them.
2. Have a skills inventory on all your staff or teammates
You are probably in a better place to identify who is good at what in your firm, organization or team if you are the manager. Everyone is good at something, and you will need to know and list down everyone’s skills and abilities for the delegating procedure. Here you simply want to know who can do those tasks that you have already outlined best, if not better than the rest.
With a well made inventory, it becomes easy to pick the right person for a particular task. Most often, it is the wrong choice in a person that ruins the whole delegation exercise. Also, abruptly assigning a task to a person without proper preparation can have adverse effects on that person who might find pressure in doing something they know nothing about.
3. Set aside all necessary resources for each task
A lot of the time when delegation don’t seem to work effectively, it is usually because of the lack of proper allocation of all the necessary resources and authority to the person to whom the task is delegated to. You have to clearly set aside everything that is necessary or exactly what you would have used to perform that task had you done it yourself.
Resources can be anything from tools and machinery, all the way to funds, human resources and the authority to command such resources. Make it known to everyone in the team that a certain task has been delegated to so and so, and so has everything else that concerns that task. I agree that a certain level of fear is always there when authority is given away. There are definite potential risks especially in the delegation of authority. You will thus need to have absolute confidence in those who you delegate tasks to. This is something that you will probably need to have worked on well before.
4. Define all the required outcomes
This is very important. You have to define what is expected with each task explicitly and with no ambiguity. Sometimes as a manager you can be tempted to be a perfectionist. It’s okay if it is you who is performing the task, but when you have decided to delegate the task, things can get a little out of hand. Perfection tends to know no limit, and so if you are going to delegate a task without setting a definite requirement or goal, it will be hard to appreciate any work that is done, or be able to appraise the work done objectively.
It is obvious that you would want something done well or perfectly when you give it to someone, but it is really important to be realistic in your expectations. Do not set standards that are way higher than reason, or what you would achieve yourself. But don’t also set low standards just because you think the person you delegate the task to can’t match up to you.
Even with the best intentions, this can easily be interpreted as super self-importance on your part and a sign of lack of confidence in what another team member has to offer.
5. Provide training, guidelines and all other necessary information
Some tasks are more complex than others. You can delegate both the easy and the hard tasks; all you need is to ensure that your team has the training necessary to undertake particular tasks. Since you are the one delegating, you are most certainly the one best placed to provide training and guidelines on how things ought to be done.
You can have regular workshops for your team with targeted lessons for the various tasks you outline as those that can be delegated. Train specific people who have specific skills for specific tasks.
Learning is always ongoing and so there can never be a limit. You should put this fact into perspective when creating a procedure that you will use to delegate.
Image: Nguyen Hung Vu