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You Can’t do it All ~ 10 Tips on How to Delegate

You don’t have to be a control-freak to have heard some truth in the phrase “if I want it done right, I have to do it myself.” While the base thought may indicate an admirable expectation of excellence, no one can be everywhere, doing everything. There is no need to be a superhero.  Besides, even Batman has Alfred and Robin.

The good thing is, you don’t have to do it all! Delegating to others is not only helpful, it is crucial for success.

Keep in mind, delegating is more than handing out “stuff off your to do list.” People want more than a salary from their jobs; they want satisfaction, opportunity, and growth. Effective delegation not only helps you get things done, it also helps to provide those who work around you the opportunity for personal and professional growth, and increased job satisfaction.

Here are 10 tips on how to delegate effectively:

1. Delegate to strength

Besides getting the job done, you don’t want to set someone up for failure. Choose the right person for the job; know your team and their strengths so that you can select a responsibility or task that will lead to success.

2. Involve your team

Include them interactively, including their acknowledgement that they understand and agree to the assignment or role.

3. Communicate expectations clearly

Be specific, clear, and complete in reviewing the details, making sure the goals are specific, attainable, relevant, and measurable. This includes:

  1. what is to be done (requirements)
  2. when it needs to be completed (deadline)
  3. why it is necessary (purpose, how it fits into overall goals or objectives)
  4. assignment parameters (scope of authority)
  5. tools and resources that are available, and possible challenges or obstacles to consider (set a leadership path)
  6. when and how to share roadblocks or progress with you (involvement without surprises)
  7. what constitutes good performance (criteria for success)

4. Delegate responsibilities, not methods

Discuss approaches that you’ve undertaken successfully in the past, including pitfalls that you have encountered. Defining a specific method however may keep an employee from finding a new way to do the job that you may have overlooked. Not everyone will do the same thing in the same manner, and that is absolutely acceptable.

5. Provide both resources and authority

Having just one or the other is insufficient. You need to provide available and relevant information and resources; sharing any new data as it becomes available. Make additional resources available as necessary. You need to grant enough authority to do the job, while ensuring that help is available when required.

6. Touch base, but balance your involvement

Once delegated, don’t disappear, but maintain contact without over-supervising. As part of the communication, agree how often you need updates and information of any issues. Touching base occasionally outside of that is worthwhile, looming or constantly seeking updates is not.

7. Be patient

Particularly when it’s the first time a task, project or role is delegated, you may face this challenge. It may take more time to consult and answer questions at the beginning: time that may make you want to just do it yourself. Be patient – over time, as you each learn how to best interact and refine expectations, it will get easier.

8. Give credit and coach – Don’t place blame

Where there is success, ensure that success is public: motivate through recognition and reward. If there are challenges, don’t place blame, publicly or otherwise. Instead, use challenges as a coaching opportunity; teach and lead.

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9. Maintain accountability

Though you’ve delegated the responsibility for the job and the appropriate authority, remember you retain the ultimate accountability. If the project results in failure, you can’t offload the blame to the delegated. Consider where you have now gained an opportunity to learn and refine your approach for delegating and managing in the future, and accept that as part of the process.

10. Be consistent

Resist any urge to take back delegated responsibility and don’t just delegate unpleasant tasks. Inconsistency and shuffling all the unpleasant roles off your desk can result in a loss of respect from your team. And once lost, respect can be difficult to regain.

Delegating effectively takes practice. Sometimes it is hard to give up control. Viewing it, however, from the prism of opportunity can help. Think of all that you can accomplish, together, and all you can learn from each other.