Every manager worth their salt will at some point in their lives want to know how to delegate effectively. It can be quite daunting but there are some fairly simply principles that you can follow to increase your chances of success..
Why are you delegating?
There are two main reasons why managers want to delegate
- they want to pass some of their workload on to others, and
- they want to develop the skill and knowledge within their team
Depending on which reason you have for exploring how to delegate effectively, there are different techniques to increase your success.
How to delegate effectively when you want to pass some of your workload on to others
- Remember that nobody else is you. You can’t delegate to such an extent that the person you delegate work to is expected to replicate exactly what you would do. Be realistic about what you expect.
- Very few people in this world are truly telepathic. To make delegation effective you’re going to have to really work at defining what you want. Effective delegation starts and ends with you.
- Start by identifying routine tasks, things that don’t involve decision-making if possible, something that you do every week or every month.
- Break down the task into steps. Remember how frustrating it is when you get something new and the instructions seem to jump steps, or not give you all the information? You need to avoid this pitfall. Write all the steps down. Do you need to include diagrams or pictures to help make things more clear?
- Sleep on it.
- Do the task yourself following exactly the instructions that you’ve written down. If there are gaps in the instructions, fill them in. If the instructions are not clear, change them. Make sure that the instructions include any non-negotiables eg. does it have to be done in a certain font? Do you need it by a specific time? etc. Its unfair to delegate if you haven’t spelt these out for the employee you are delegating to.
- Sit down with the employee that you are delegating to and avoid interruptions. Explain that you want them to take responsibility for this task and explain what the task is for, how it fits into the bigger picture. Show them the instructions. Do the task so that they can watch you work your way through the instructions.
- Tell them when you want them to start doing this task. Most importantly, tell them how far they should go through the instructions the first time before asking you to check the work. Do this two or three times until you are satisfied that the employee is carrying out the task correctly and to the standard you want.
How to delegate effectively when you want to develop the knowledge within your team.
This type of delegation is more complex than simply delegating tasks; although delegating tasks maybe where you start when you want to develop the knowledge within your team. Again, the success of this kind of delegation starts and finishes with you.
- When you’ve worked out what you want to delegate, pick the right person to delegate to. Pick the person who has the capabilities to carry out the task you need doing. It’s unlikely that this kind of delegation will be undertaken with new employees who are still finding their feet.
- Define what you are delegating and, more importantly, define clear outcomes / performance measures.
- Sit down with the person that you want to delegate to. Discuss what you are thinking of delegating and get their input on how best to delegate. People respond better if they feel that they own the piece of work that they are .
- If the person you are delegating to is learning a new task the task will take more time. Be realistic about what they can achieve and be sensitive to that learning process.
- Focused updates improve the quality of work and the likelihood of the deadline being met. Make sure that you meet with the person you are delegating too regularly in the early part of their work.
Learning how to delegate effectively is a key skill for people managers. It’s a means of ensuring that you are managing your time effectively and engaged in a strategy to develop your team.
If you want any help or advice on how to delegate effectively give us a call on 01706 565332
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.