How to Delegate – 7 Steps

You’re snowed under; you have too many meetings to attend and not enough hours in the day to get the work done. Does that sound familiar? You also have a team of pretty capable people and know that you should delegate more, in fact you keep saying to yourself “I must delegate more” but never quite get around to it.

So, what’s stopping you?

We’ve heard many reasons. Here’s just a few:

“It’s too big a risk”
“It will be quicker if I do it myself”
“I don’t like losing control”
“It won’t get done the right way” (in other words your way!)

If you’d like to delegate more, then follow these 7 Steps to Successful Delegation.

Step 1 – What will you Delegate?

It may be tempting to use delegation as an opportunity to dump all the jobs you don’t like doing. Be careful though as your team are likely to see straight through this.

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If you’re going to delegate a task to someone, make sure there’s something in it for them, for instance:

– Is it a development opportunity?
– Will it raise their profile?
– Will it give them deserved recognition from others?

Once you’ve decided what to delegate you need to be clear on the outcome. What are your expectations? What does success look like?

Step 2 – Who will you Delegate to?

If you find yourself considering “who can I give this job to most quickly?” or “who will be least resistant?” think again . . . .

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If you always delegate to the person you know can do the job, what happens? They get even busier and others don’t get an opportunity to learn and develop. When deciding who to delegate to consider:

– Who has the necessary skills and knowledge?
– Who would benefit from the development opportunity this activity may provide?
– Who has the motivation to do a good job?

Step 3 – What Level of Authority do they Need?

How empowered does the individual need to be so that they can complete the work independently and successfully? Do you need to delegate authority as well as responsibility? If so, to what level?

A helpful way to explain this to the person is to talk through the following:

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GO– what can they simply get on with without the need to refer to you or even tell you about?
GO then let KNOW– what would you like to be kept informed about and how?
YES then GO– what do they need to check with you before taking action?
NO GO– what do you not want them to do?

Step 4 – What Coaching or Training will they Need?

If you’re delegating a task to someone as a development opportunity, what help will they need to complete it successfully? Will this involve training or coaching? And who would be the best person to provide this? Remember it doesn’t necessarily need to be you. Is there someone else in the team who could help?

Step 5 – What Resources do they need and who else needs to know?

It’s all very well delegating a task to someone, but what if they don’t have the resources to do it well or access to the right people who can help them?

So that the individual has some independence in completing the task, you need to consider what they will need at the outset so that they don’t have to keep coming back to you every five minutes. You may need to consider:

– Will they need help from others and if so who?
– Do they need access to systems, people or other resources?
– Do they need a budget and if so how much? How will they access this budget?
– Who else can support them other than you?

And do remember to tell others who you have delegated the task to. This might include your line manager, other team members or colleagues in other departments who may be used to being in contact with you in relation to this specific task.

Step 6 – What will be the Monitoring and Reviewing process?

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been delegated a task and then your manager either disappears for a couple of weeks or hovers over your shoulder the whole time?

If you want to avoid falling into this trap, it’s really helpful for the person to know, up front, what contact you would like with them throughout the completion of the task. How often do you want to review progress? What specifically do you want to review with them (just the completion of the task, how they’re going about completing it or what they’re learning along the way)?

And once the task has been completed successfully, it’s always worth spending time reviewing it. How did they get on? What challenges did they encounter? How did they overcome them? What did they learn? How would they do it differently next time? This only needs to take a few minutes but will help to increase their confidence and set them up for success next time.

Step 7 – How and When will you Brief them?

You’ve got this far but there’s still time to mess it up if you don’t brief them properly.

When briefing the person make sure you discuss:

– The nature and scope of the task and how it fits in the bigger picture
– Why you are delegating to them
– The result to be achieved
– The time they should spend on the task
– The deadline for completion
– The resources available and how to access them
– The level of authority they have
– The training, coaching and support available and from whom
– How you would like to monitor and review progress.

That just leaves you with the final job of wishing them well and reassuring them of your trust, support and availability whilst they completed the delegated task.

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And finally . . . . . . Above all, do not interfere – let them get on with it. You never know they may even do a better job than you!

We’d welcome your thoughts… what do you think of these 7 steps? What techniques do you use to delegate tasks and ensure that your team feels motivated to complete them?

Look out for next month’s blog on Motivation.

Posted by: Julie Turner

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