By Suzanne Jones, LPC, MA
A critical part of time management is delegation but many of us aren’t very good at it. We tell ourselves it would just be simpler, faster, and safer to do it ourselves. Effective delegation requires a long range focus. In the long run, delegation can reduce your stress and free you up to work on projects that are important to you. It is a great way to develop your team and to give them a sense of ownership that makes them proud to be part of your organization. Decreasing staff turnover alone can save time, stress, and money. It’s true that delegation takes effort on the front end, but it will be worth the effort if done well.
Here are some tips on how to effectively delegate.
How To Decide If You Should Delegate
Ask yourself if this project or assignment is a good use of your time. Just because you can do it, and do it efficiently and well, doesn’t mean it is time well spent. So ask yourself if your skills be better used elsewhere.
As a general rule, if a project is dealing with confidential or sensitive information, it should probably NOT be delegated. As well, if skillful completion of an assignment is critical to the success of an organization, it should likely be done by you and NOT delegated.
Since delegation is a long term investment that requires time and effort on the front end, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I really have time to train and instruct my team member?
- Do I have time to field questions and trouble shoot as the project unfolds?
- Do we have time to make corrections if the project isn’t done correctly?
- Do I have time to follow up when the project is complete, giving appropriate feedback and acknowledgement?
If the answer is no, the timing may not be right.
Who Should I Delegate To?
Don’t expect your team member to be as knowledgeable or efficient as you. As a general rule, delegate assignments to people to can do it 80% as well as you. As time goes by, your team member should grow in skill and efficiency if given the opportunity to do so. Remember this is about team development as well as managing your time and stress level! Here are some useful questions to help you decide who is a good person to delegate to:
- Do I really need to do this assignment? Is it a good use of my time?
- Who else has the skills and expertise to do this assignment?
- Who has the time to devote to this assignment? What tasks will have to be reassigned to free this person up?
- Who has the desire to do this assignment?
- How independent is this person? How much supervision will be needed?
- Is this an appropriate task assignment? As a rule, it is better to assign projects to those closest to the work. For example, if reorganizing the warehouse, it would make sense to delegate this task to someone who works in the warehouse.
How To Delegate Effectively
Don’t expect your team to do things the way you do them. They won’t be as efficient at first and they have their own style. While it isn’t good to micromanage once you have delegated a task, you also don’t want to give up all control. It is a fine line. Taking care to delegate with these things in mind should keep everyone on the same page, give an appropriate amount of freedom, and keep the project under reasonable supervision.
- State clearly what you expect regarding:
- Outcome –what should the final project look like?
- Checkpoints throughout the project –when do you want updates?
- Deadlines – when do you need the project to be complete?
- Incentives/Consequences – give your team member good reasons to do the work and do it well. Generally incentives and rewards are more effective in shaping positive behavior.
- Confirm these things in writing to avoid miscommunication.
- When the project is complete, show respect for your team member’s hard work by giving the completed project appropriate time and attention.
- Give direct, honest, and tactful feedback. If the project isn’t done correctly, explain what hasn’t been done to your satisfaction and allow your team member to address what needs to be fixed.
- Acknowledge good work and show appreciation! Nothing is as disheartening as working hard without recognition. Offering kudos to your team member, especially at a staff meeting, will go a long way in creating incentives for all team members to work harder for the good of the company.
Delegation takes work on the front end, but it is a powerful way to free up time for yourself and develop talents and a sense of ownership on your team. In the long run, it should be more than worth the effort!
Suzanne Jones, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor and life coach with Crossroads Professional Service. Her prior experience as a school administrator and full time Mom of 5 kids make her an expert in time management and delegation.
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