Delegating tasks and asking people to perform are major building blocks for working effectively and are critical to being an effective manager. They give you the chance to take on bigger and bigger projects and help you advance in your career. You get the chance to share your expertise and to train people on tasks so that you can move on to new activities yourself. Keep in mind that as you advance in your career, you are paid not only to do, but increasingly to think, guide and direct.
Unfortunately, delegating is an important skill that many of us don’t formally learn. Here are some tips to help you delegate tasks more effectively.
The first thing to think about, even before you delegate, is whether the task matters. If it doesn’t matter or add to the bottom line, save yourself and others time and eliminate the task.
Once you’ve decided the task matters, clearly communicate your needs. If others don’t know what you need, how can they help? Delegating tasks is more than simply sending off an email request; you need to make sure that your message has been properly received and understood. Making communication an ongoing dialogue and collaborative process will help ensure that you get the results you want.
Be clear in your own mind about the result you seek before you delegate a task. Once you have a clear outcome in mind, communicate it and show the person the process you use – give them the benefit of your experience. Equally important, however, is to give them the time and freedom to experiment to find a process that works, and potentially to come up with a better way of doing things. This helps keep you from micro-managing the task and is a win-win: they feel good about their abilities, the task is completed better, and you have developed an ally who is invested in the success of the project.
When a person is learning a new task, they are likely to make mistakes along the way – that is a natural part of the learning process. So plan for some mistakes; don’t delegate assuming the person will perform perfectly at first. When you train someone to perform an activity, you’re making an investment. Delegating requires patience initially, but in the long run, it’ll increase your overall productivity.
In addition to giving them enough time, think about what resources you have that might help them. For example: access to data, past work, examples, training materials, web resources, or equipment. You can also connect them to other people in your organization who may be able to provide additional help.
Making yourself available for questions, getting periodic updates, and staying engaged are critical to getting your tasks accomplished. If the goal or timeline changes, make that information available to your collaborators as soon as possible. Use tools to share information so that when multiple people are working on a task or activity they all have access to the latest material and can easily ask for guidance or input. Good collaboration tools let you know how your tasks are progressing and help everyone know who is working on what and what their (and others) roles are.
You will be required to delegate more and more tasks if you want to complete bigger and bigger projects. Take the time to publicly recognize and praise the efforts of others; they will feel good about contributing to achieve a common goal and be more likely to help you in the future. And if you want to succeed, you can be sure that you’ll need help again.
Related to giving people credit for their efforts is personally thanking them. It is important to acknowledge the help you received and let them know they are appreciated. You’ll find people are much more willing to help in the future when they feel appreciated.
You are most likely paid for results. When you learn to delegate tasks effectively you can get results better and faster. And that makes you more valuable.