6 Steps for Effective Delegating

Delegating tasks to others on your team doesn’t just lighten your workload – it can lead to improved employee satisfaction, help you be more productive, and even speed up career growth for you and the employee who completes the project.

If you could go away on vacation for 3 months and work would still be accomplished in a timely manner, you are doing a great job delegating.  For the rest of us, there is always room for improvement.  Here are 6 steps you can take when delegating to ensure success:

Decide what can be delegated

The easiest tasks to delegate are handling phone inquiries and drafting letters, memos and reports.  If your employee used to do a task or project at a previous job, assign him or her those tasks, especially if you are overspecialized or it is not in your area of expertise.  Time-intensive projects – such as those that require research – are good to delegate as well.  A good rule to follow is to delegate items that you do over and over.

Understand what cannot be delegated

Delegating some activities can end up causing you more time in the end if you have to fix them or fill in gaps.  Those include projects with poorly defined objectives, budget reviews, performance evaluations, highly specialized projects, and major decision-making that involve department strategy or interdepartmental objectives.

Choose the employee carefully

Pick employees carefully when delegating tasks, especially those that affect the entire department or team.  Choose an employee whose skills and personality style match the task or project. Look for employees with untapped abilities, skills and knowledge, rather than always delegating to the first person who comes to mind.  If there is no one within the company who can take on the project, look for outside expertise.

Prep the employee

To set up the employee for success, provide them with a written description that breaks down the task or project into steps with separate deadlines, directs them to resources they may need, and explains the objectives thoroughly so the employee understands the importance of the assignment.  Be prepared to field questions that may seem basic to you.

When communicating with the employee, be sure to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the project and confidence in their ability to do a great job.  Make your directions as specific as possible without overwhelming them with details or complicated instructions.

Support the employee

If the going gets tough, don’t desert your employee or reduce their authority unless all efforts at directing and guiding them fall flat.  Be sure you provide all the information they need to do a good job, and communicate regularly to be sure the project is being completed correctly.   The more support you can provide, the better the employee will perform.  By properly supporting employees, your team will enjoy increased morale and sense of ownership, and they will become more proactive and creative.

Review employee performance

Whether you delegated an ongoing task or short-term project, review the employee’s performance to learn if they found it easy or difficult, if they needed more time or different resources, and if they received the support of other employees.  Be sure to reward the employee for a successful outcome – positive feedback will reinforce their value and make them want to do an even better job moving forward.

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