Delegation is defined as being “the act of giving control, authority, a job, a duty, etc., to another person.” You could be forgiven for thinking that delegation is just another buzz word used in management meetings or team building exercises but the truth is that whether your business is small and just now finding its feet or an enormous multinational corporation, delegation is an absolutely essential part of all aspects of business from the ground up. It has been noted that delegation is not a task, but an on-going process that becomes an integral part of a successful business.
We all know the saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself” and we are all guilty of reneging on delegating when we find ourselves frustrated or in a time crunch. Whilst this is a perfectly acceptable and sometimes expected practise, continually refusing to delegate can have serious professional and personal repercussions including exhaustion, low morale depression and burnout. It is essential to employ more long-term thinking practises. The process of delegation can also be beneficial in avoiding the pitfalls of micromanagement wherein your employees may not feel valued or trusted to carry out certain tasks. Delegation is not easy, but sometimes the most fulfilling and worthwhile things are difficult at first. Here we have collected some of the most important things to bear in mind, to help you engage in effective delegation in your workplace.
Long-term thinking is essential in all aspects of business, but particularly when it comes to delegation. It is important to know in advance what it is you want to achieve and be able to express this to your colleagues.
Know when to delegate:
Whether you are in a managerial or a more secondary role, the most important aspect of delegation is to know what tasks you can delegate and to whom. There will always be some tasks which should be completed only by you and it is important to identify what these are in order to separate them from all other tasks. Once you have identified your own most critical tasks, you can then make a note of those you feel could be completed by others – and if applicable assign those tasks as necessary. This frees up your own time to be used more wisely and also shows a level of trust in your employees/colleagues which they might not have felt previously.
Know which tasks suit which employees:
The next important step in effective delegation is deciding which person will be the right fit for the job. This can be as simple as assigning a sales job to a sales oriented employee, or simply matching an employee’s skillset or personality to the job at hand. Don’t be afraid to offer further training to employees who will require it before taking on a task.
This is perhaps one of the biggest keys to effective delegation, and also where many people go wrong. The worst thing you can do when delegating is to be vague, as this leaves your employee unsure of what their role is, causing undue stress to both them and yourself when you invariably fall into the “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” trap. The key here is to identify the task clearly, know what results you want to achieve here and ensure that the person to whom you are delegating is well aware of the expected outcome. Communication is the key to effective delegation and a successful business.
Deadlines must be discussed when delegating so that the individual taking on the task is well aware of the parameters within which they are expected to complete the task. At this point, agreeing on methods of communication and “checking in” on the project should also be agreed. Setting a defined deadline can avoid problems further down the road.
This is the hardest part of the delegation process. All involved must know who is accountable should there be a problem from the outset, as well as what will be expected of them with this task. Accountability cannot be passed on, it can only be shared. Ensuring accountability means that your employees/colleagues will stay
Offering feedback on how the process/project has gone boosts staff morale and also ensures that all involved know their strengths and what aspects they can work on for the benefit of future projects.
The process of delegation is a difficult one to begin, but will become easier each time as your employees/colleagues become better equipped and experienced at dealing with certain similar tasks in the future. You will soon find yourself wondering why you didn’t start this process sooner as your business becomes a more defined and organised organism.