Top tips to become better at delegating

Marielena Sabatier outlines steps that can help managers delegate more effectively

Learning to delegate effectively is a key skill for any manager, whatever their profession. It not only helps team members to grow and progress but it helps prevent managers getting stressed and too overloaded with work.

The purpose of delegating is twofold – to get something done and to motivate and develop employees. Managers can’t realistically carry out every task and at some point must learn to let go and trust that someone else in the team can get a job done.

Good delegation will ideally free them up and help their team progress but, it takes investment, time, clear communications and commitment. 

All managers must delegate at some time in order for their company to succeed. Wanting do every task themselves is unsustainable and does nothing for team spirit and morale. Team members need to learn and the only way for them to do this is to carry out new tasks and projects.

One mistake managers make is assuming delegating is done by abdicating. It’s not handing over a task and leaving someone to it. Delegating always needs to be managed properly and carefully, making sure they don’t disempower the employee.

Managers also need to be careful they don’t micro manage. This will undermine the team member they have trusted to a job and they may end up spending so much time controlling and overseeing every detail they may as well have done it themselves.

The following steps can help managers delegate more effectively:

1. Decide to whom to delegate. Is the other person or team of people capable of doing the task or can they be trained to do it? Don’t delegate to someone just because they are around. Make sure you understand their abilities, experience and degree of willingness.

2. Plan before you delegate. Define the task. Confirm in your own mind what tasks are suitable to be delegated. 

3. Take the time to explain what is needed and what specific results you require. This is the key to delegating effectively. Set out clearly what must be achieved and define the objectives. Make sure they understand the task and what is a job well done.

4.  Explain why the job or responsibility is being delegated. What is its importance and relevance? Where does it fit in the overall scheme of things?

5. Provide specific deadlines. By when do you need it, and if the task is complex and has parts or stages, what are the priorities?

6. You must agree methods of checking progress with them, but in a way where they don’t feel they are not trusted. It’s about stepping back, providing guidance but having regular times set up to review.

7. Make sure you give feedback on results. It is critical to let your team know how they are doing, and if they performed well. If not, you must review with them why things did not go to plan, and deal with the problems. You must absorb the consequences of failure, and pass on the credit for success.

8. One of the worst mistakes a manager can make is to take back a piece of work that is not up to standard and fix it themselves. When this happens, no one benefits. The manager continues to be overworked and the employee doesn’t learn.

9. Remember every piece of work is a learning opportunity, and it must be fully owned by the person and handed back to them until it meets the required standards. This is the only way that people progress and learn.

Learning to delegate will help managers at every stage of their career. As they progress and climb the career ladder it will be a crucial skill and will ensure not only do they grow as a manager but their team also develops and learns to take on responsibility. 


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