What’s your excuse for not delegating? Not enough time? Feel like you’re losing control?
Delegation is a vital part of successful business management and here are some tips on effective delegation - to grow your team, you and your business!
Whether you are a manager or self-employed, being able to delegate effectively is one of the most important roles within your job.
As a leader your job isn’t ‘to do,’ it is to gain or accomplish things through your employees. Your time should be spent planning, organising, staffing, directing, controlling, innovating, training, and goal setting, and not on trivial jobs such as fighting fires or responding to interruptions and correcting errors.
If you are taking work home, if jobs pile up when you are not at work, or if there is no replacement ready to step in when you are promoted, and if you feel you want a job done properly you have to do it yourself, then you are not delegating effectively, if at all.
So, what’s your excuse for not delegating?
“I’d rather do it myself”
Presumably it you are a manager you are paid more than your employees, so you can’t afford to do the work yourself. Your job is to get things done through other people.
“I don’t have enough time to delegate, because it means training somebody first”
If the task is repetitive then the time taken to train somebody will eventually breakeven with the time saved by that person being able to do the job. From then on it’s savings for you. Think of the time spent training as an investment.
“I can do a better job than my employees”
You probably can - look how much experience you’ve had! Give your employees the opportunity to gain experience as well.
“It is just habit that I don’t delegate”
Now is a good time to form a new habit! Spare some time to spend with your team.
“I don’t know if my employees are capable”
Show confidence in them and give them some training.
“My employees are already too busy”
What are they busy doing? Are they working on the important or essential tasks or just the tasks that would be nice to have done? You are giving them better work, not more work.
“I feel threatened”
Once you’ve grown into a job, plan to grow out of it. If you train someone for your job then it means you are promotable.
“I feel as though I’m losing control”
When delegating, give your employees a limit of authority and insist on feedback. You are delegating not abdicating and remember you are ultimately responsible.
“I haven’t the heart to dump on someone else”
Firstly, why aren’t you so considerate to yourself? Secondly, you’re not dumping, you are delegating. You assess your employee’s work load and you determine what can be eliminated, simplified or reassigned.
Why you should delegate
Delegating provides your employees with an opportunity to expand their own skills in decision making and problem solving and encourages their creativity and initiative. Remember your team will learn best by ‘doing.’ A leader develops the skills and abilities of the people being led.
- Delegation motivates your employees by helping them to become what they are capable of being.
- Effective delegation forces you to spend time with your employees thus developing your interpersonal relationship. Your feedback and attention will encourage them on to greater things.
- Delegation helps set performance standards based on employee’s accomplishments or results rather than purely on their activity.
- Delegation helps to increase results by releasing you from some of your activities. You will be able to step back and look at the bigger picture rather than being caught up in the internal activities of the business. You will be able to think outwards for the better of the company and not lose sight of the real goals.
- Delegation develops an organisation by bringing out everyone’s best talents. A manager is able to train their own replacements thus making their own advancement possible.
What should you delegate?
Start by doing a complete job activity analysis. List all the activities you perform and the decisions you make. Take your time and list everything. Do the same a week later and then a month later - you will probably think of more tasks that you do on a weekly and monthly basis.
Note how often you do the task and how long it takes. Then note why you are doing it (be honest - is it because of one of the excuses below?), and ask yourself if it is a priority or a timewaster task? Ask yourself if someone who reports to you could be doing this task? Do they have the time and desire, and do you have the time and desire to teach it? Can they be trained by you? Note down the person or persons who you think should do the task.
Ensure you develop all people, not just the one person who is approachable and capable, as they’ll soon become overloaded and ineffective and may quit. Make sure you are also delegating enjoyable and important tasks as well.
- Be specific with your assignments and don’t rush your explanation. If you rush, your employee may take this as a sign that you feel the job is easy - and could inhibit them from asking questions.
- Don’t insult their intelligence by getting them to repeat what you’ve told them. There are other ways to check they have understood; “Did I mention the purchase order books - ?” or ‘I can’t recall if I told you what to do with the copies from the purchase order books?” And if they reply “Yes, the top copy goes to the supplier and the green copy to our file,” you know they’ve understood.
- Build up their self confidence, don’t let your impatience show even when you do feel impatient.
- Decide on a date for your employee to assume the new responsibility and its duration.
- Explain the purpose of the task and how it relates to the organisation’s goal. Help them see the bigger picture and the consequences.
- Give a detailed explanation of how the task is currently done
- Welcome any suggestions for the method to be improved. Let your employees find a better way of doing something, reward that effort and encourage it. Let them excel. It can be hard to admit someone can do a better job than you can, especially if it is a job you’ve done for years! But it’s good to let go and realize you don’t have all the answers.
- If they have problems, encourage them to find a range of solutions first before seeking help.
- Give an explanation of resources or information available if they encounter problems.
- Give a summary of problems encountered in the past and how they were handled.
- Give an explanation of any unusual circumstances or problems that may arise in the future.
- Give your employees the authority to do the task. You can’t give your assistant responsibility for organising a luncheon without giving them the authority to choose the menu or the restaurant. You can limit the authority by giving a limit to the amount spent. Let them know which decisions they can make and which ones they should take to their manager.
- Advise of any new reporting relationships and lines of communications involved with the new task.
- Outline the type and frequency of feedback expected.
- Let them know how their performance will be evaluated.
- Record the assignment you’ve given and dates of deadlines so you can track progress and keep in touch with your employee.
When you’ve assigned your assistant a task and you’ve outlined the points above - let go! Don’t carry on by giving step by step instructions. Don’t stand over their shoulder.
Delegate the objectives and results not the procedure. By forcing your own ideas on your employees you are repressing their creativity. You’re not giving responsibility and you will find they will come running back at every decision.
You will have to trust your team with the task and although you are in control do not be tempted to take over. Realise you may have to trade-in short-term errors for Iong-term results.
Review the results with your employee. When you are evaluating the results start with the positive, be honest but place emphasis on the good points.
Effective delegation is a vital part of successful business management and your skills in delegating will develop your employees, yourself and your business.
Originally published in Her Business magazine.
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