The art of delegation
One of the most important aspects of running a business is delegating work. You simply can’t do everything yourself. You need team members to take on tasks so you can focus on other priorities.
What Is Delegation?
Delegation is the process of reassigning specific roles and jobs to other people on your team or to an outsourcer. It’s done so business owners can focus their efforts elsewhere by having someone else handle jobs you don’t have time for. Delegation also comes into play when a task or activity is better suited to the skillset of someone on the team or to be outsourced.
To do it effectively, you need to communicate clearly, be organised and supportive. You also need to be able to identify when you should do the work yourself and when you should delegate tasks.
When to Delegate
Knowing the right tasks to delegate is an art rather than a science. It really comes down to your business needs, your skills and your time.
Start by asking yourself the following to see if you should delegate the work:
10 Tips on How to Delegate Work More Effectively
The first thing you need to do is figure out what work you want to hand off. As an entrepreneur, you may delegate just a few tasks to an assistant or freelancer.
However you choose to delegate, it’s important to think about exactly what you want to transition to other team members.
In general, the following types of work are great candidates for delegation:
As a team lead, you know how vital communication is. Delegation is no different. You need to lay out a clear framework and expectations for communication.
When you delegate work, you want to be sure that the person you’re assigning it to has what they need to succeed. That means knowing their skillset and providing opportunities for them to learn relevant new skills.
The best way to accomplish this is to have regular one-on-one meetings. Ask the employee what their career goals are, what they enjoy working on, and if there is anything outside the normal scope of work they’d like to try.
Take into consideration their strengths so you can cultivate high-performance teams to match your unique workflow. It’s a lot easier when you can work from a single view to see strengths and weaknesses play out across your team.
Do they have management skills they can leverage to manage one or two other people on the team? Do they have technical skills that can help your development team?
Effective leaders know how to prioritise work. For delegating tasks, it’s critical to communicate clearly which items need to be addressed first.
That way the team member knows where to start and has a road map for what comes next.
Your work is more successful when you understand the role it plays in meeting the company’s goals. The same goes for team members you delegate tasks to.
Help them understand how the task or project they are working on fits into the big picture as well as the desired outcome you’re wanting. If they understand how they contribute to the team and feel like an important piece of the puzzle, they’ll be more likely to want to succeed.
Context also helps your team member fully understand the purpose of the task. While you might be a pro at these tasks, they are new to your co-worker. Offer to walk them through the task or create a video showing how you do it.
That way, you can feel confident handing off the tasks and knowing your team member has the information they need to complete the work successfully.
If you want to cultivate high-performing teams, you need a structure to help them tackle tasks (and address the time-consuming tasks) so both you and your team know exactly what’s expected. Delegating effectively helps everyone know the task at hand.
As a project manager or team leader, you should provide support to your team throughout the project, not just at the beginning when you’re providing context. This can mean offering training if there are skills they need to develop in order to succeed.
It can also mean providing support in terms of resources—like task management software—financial backing, or connecting them to experts who can support their work.
Just because the team member completes the task differently from how you would do it doesn’t mean they didn’t do a good job. Focus on the end result rather than how they got there. All of us learn and work differently, so be open-minded when reviewing the work you’ve delegated.
At the end of the day, good work and results are what should matter.
Set tasks to recur by time or event so you’re not micromanaging the tasks you delegate
It’s wonderful to trust the people you work with to do their jobs and get things done on time. But that doesn’t mean you should take a totally hands-off approach. Give your team members space and time to get the work done, but schedule regular check-ins.
Discuss how often you want to check in with members of your team. It should be a balance between not micromanaging, but still doing regular reviews.
Many managers choose to meet bimonthly or monthly. Others working on projects with a longer timeline choose to check in quarterly. During these meetings, provide support if they have questions or concerns and offer guidance for seeing the work to completion.
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for the success of the project. After it’s completed, plan a review where you can go over what worked well and what can be improved. For the next project, you can implement these changes into your workflow management processes.
As human beings, we like working in a positive environment and seeing our work appreciated and recognized. Celebrate milestones and small wins whenever possible. This boosts morale, creates a fun environment to work in, and offers incentives to do a good job.
Successful delegation isn’t just about assigning tasks and seeing them to completion. A key component of delegating is reviewing the process to see what worked and what can be improved. Ask your team members for constructive feedback on the process. Identify areas where you both succeeded and consider if there is any room for improvement.
If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice, contact our experts* Michelle and Lee at Pro-Development:
*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.