Effective delegation is a skill that few managers possess, but is an integral part of being a good leader. Only an estimated 30 per cent of bosses feel they’ve mastered the art of delegation, which means that the remaining 70 per cent are busy being bogged down with assignments they really should have offloaded. After all, it’s not just about freeing up your time so you can concentrate on the trickier tasks (important), it’s about nurturing the talent of those around you with a view to creating a solid, dependable team. Here’s how:
Do… set clear guidelines
The key to effective delegation is a clear brief. From budgets to manpower, spell out exactly what your requirements are and when you expect them to be met. But before you go ushering anyone out of your room with little more than a cursory “chop, chop!” check that they fully understand the task at hand. Do they have any concerns? Depending on the scale of the assignment, consider setting progress updates so that they have a designated time to talk through any unexpected roadblocks and you can be reassured that everything is ticking along smoothly.
“Try to stop being such a perfectionist and start trusting your team.”
Don’t… try to do it all yourself
From marketing, product design to presentation, entrepreneurs typically do everything themselves when building their business from the ground up. But while delegating might seem like a foreign concept for someone who has shouldered the brunt of the workload for so long, it’s imperative you do so once your startup has taken off in order to let your business thrive. Granted, no-one is going to carry out a task exactly as you would – but that’s OK. Try to stop being such a perfectionist and start trusting your team.
Do… choose the right person for the task
Be tactical about who you’re delegating each task to. By delegating a task that compliments (or challenges) a particular teammate’s skillset, you’re allowing them the opportunity to broaden their experience. “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions, so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and author of What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management.
It really defeats the purpose. If you’re drowning in your own workload, you really don’t have the time to be drawn back into a task just because you can overhear your colleagues discussing it. If the temptation to take back responsibility for a task you’ve already delegated is too much for you, consider working from home occasionally. It’s important to let your colleagues attempt to work through the task themselves, safe in the assurance that they can come to you if any issues arise.
Do… learn from experience
If delegating doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t expect to nail it from the get-go. Instead, evaluate what went well and what could have gone better. “You’re going from an ‘I’m going to do everything because I know better than everyone’ mindset to ‘I’m going to let people learn’ mindset,” continues Jeffrey, who notes that it takes time and practice, but once you’ve mastered the art of delegation, it’s well worth the investment.