Most of the workforce can agree on the importance of effective delegation. The challenge is putting it into action on a consistent basis. There are many valuable resources and concepts when it comes to the philosophy of delegation. Many of the resources out there explain the benefits of delegation; this is helpful for leaders to understand the importance of utilizing delegation tactics in their leadership styles/organizations. However, the difference in understanding the importance of utilizing delegation tactics and implementing them is the barrier leaders face when it comes to effective delegation.
Even with all the delegation resources available to leaders, it can be hard to know where to start, what to concentrate on, and how to move the meter in the right direction in order to measure the success of workload management. An important golden rule of delegation is to make it purposeful for all parties involved. There are two questions to ask that will ensure you are delegating the right tasks to the right people:
- If I delegate this task/item/project to my employee, will it provide more opportunities for them to grow/develop their skillset and align with their strengths?
- If I delegate this task/item/project, will I receive valuable time back to work on more important priorities that only I can handle?
Let’s look at delegation through the lens of these four phases:
Strategizing the how, when, and what you are going to delegate allows you to prioritize the scope of the tasks and projects that need to be delegated. Strategizing is preparing your approach to delegation before implementing it. Consider the following in this phase:
- Reviewing project and task timelines, components, resources, etc.
- Prioritization of what is consider urgent to non-urgent related to initiatives.
- Who is involved in what aspect of the projects and tasks; strengths of those involved in comparison to the tasks and project that need to be accomplished.
- The impact and outcome of delegating certain tasks; how does this impact the team, organization, and your time as a leader?
The investing phase is all about time management. Allocating your time to strategize, implement, and evaluate delegation tactics is crucial to your success as a delegator. Many leaders fall victim to the “tyranny of the urgent,” which puts leaders into reactive mode vs. proactive mode.
An example of reactive mode and delegation:
- Delegating a last-minute task to a team member with little to no direction because you forgot about the task and it’s time sensitive. The team member may see this as being punished for your mistake and not an opportunity for them to stretch their skillset. Now situations like this arise but how often is this acceptable?
An example of proactive mode and delegation:
- A month in advance, delegating a task to a team member, providing tools and resources to accomplish the task, and aligning it with their strengths and development areas. Most likely the team member will feel motivated and valued; especially if you explain you are delegating to help develop their skillset!
Most leaders understand the importance of delegating, yet they don’t invest their time properly in implementing delegation tactics. In order to be a successful delegator, make it a priority daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
The practice phase is all about trial and error. Some approaches may feel more suitable to certain leadership styles. In order to find out what best fits your leadership style you must practice with intention. Practice:
- Strategizing and aligning tasks based on employee strengths.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing others to lead the initiative.
- Giving more autonomy to A-players on your team and their assigned projects.
- Relinquishing smaller tasks that will help you get valuable time back.
- Delegation as a development tool to build your bench.
As you can see there are many delegation tactics you can practice! By practicing, you will find the right approach that works for you and your employees. Don’t forget to flex your style. Getting out of your comfort zone will allow for creative approaches.
“The ‘art of delegation’ is broad and can be interpreted in many ways through many different approaches. What sets successful delegators apart from others is their ability to prioritize and invest their time in delegation.”
The assess phase should happen on a consistent basis. Bi-weekly, start with assessing and evaluating what is working well and what isn’t when it comes to delegation. Set aside time in your schedule to look back at the items you’ve delegated and ask yourself:
- What was successful?
- What could have been done differently?
- What do I need to adjust?
- Where can I offer more coaching?
- What kind of reactions am I receiving from my employees?
If we don’t assess and evaluate our trial-and-error process of delegating tasks/projects, we can’t fully implement effective delegation tactics and we start to become reactive in our approach vs. being proactive. Don’t forget to ask you employees for feedback on the delegation of their tasks and projects.