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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Start Delegating Tasks Effectively (Step-by-Step Guide)

All managers and leaders must master the art of the delegation process. Understanding how and when to allocate responsibility to others is essential in maintaining a high level of productivity, both on a personal and organizational level. Delegating tasks is also essential for effective leadership.

To learn how to delegate is to build a cohesive and effective team that can meet deadlines. Moreover, knowing when and how to delegate work will reduce your workload, thus improving your wellbeing at work and boosting your job satisfaction. Unfortunately, many leaders are unsure how to delegate properly or are hesitant to do so.

In this guide, you will discover what delegation really entails, how delegating tasks benefits your team, and how to assign tasks effectively.

The Importance of Delegation

An good leader knows how to delegate. When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more on a daily basis.

Effective delegation also promotes productivity and good time management within a team by drawing on the existing skill set of its members and allowing them to develop new knowledge and competencies along the way. The result is a more flexible team that can share roles when the need arises[1].

When you are willing to delegate, you are promoting an atmosphere of confidence and trust. Your actions send a clear signal: as a leader, you trust your subordinates to achieve desired outcomes. As a result, they will come to think of you as a likeable and effective leader who respects their skills and needs.

Delegation isn’t about barking orders and hoping that your staff falls in line. A manager’s job is to get the very best from those under their supervision and, in doing so, maximizing productivity and profit[2].

Here’s an example of bad delegation:

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Dilbert - delegating work

    Careful delegation helps to identify and capitalize on the unique strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Delegation also boosts employees’ engagement as it proves that the managers are interested in drawing on their talents.[3]

    Why Do People Fear Delegating Tasks?

    Delegation boosts productivity, but not all managers are willing or able to delegate.[4] Why? Here’re some common reasons:

    • They resent the idea that someone else may get the credit for a project.
    • They are willing to delegate in principle but are afraid their team won’t be able to handle more responsibility.
    • They suspect that their staff is already overworked and feel reluctant to increase their burden.
    • They suspect that it’s simpler and quicker just to do a task themselves.
    • They dislike the idea of letting go of tasks they enjoy doing.
    • They fear that if they delegate responsibility, their own manager will conclude that they can’t handle their workload.

    The Difference Between Delegation and Allocation

    Most people think that delegation and allocation are synonymous, but there is an important distinction to be made between the two.[5]

    When you allocate a task, you are merely instructing a subordinate to carry out a specific action. You tell them what to do, and they do it—it’s that simple.

    On the other hand, delegation involves transferring some of your own work to another person. They do not just receive a set of instructions. The important part is that they are placed in a role that requires that they make decisions and are held accountable for completing the task.[6]

    How to Delegate Tasks Effectively

    So what’s the best way to delegate work so you can fight the fear of delegation, build an efficient team, and work faster? Here’s a step-by-step guide:

    1. Know When to Delegate

    By understanding how much control you need to maintain over a situation, you can determine the best strategy for empowering workers. There are 7 levels of delegation that offer workers different degrees of responsibility.

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    This brief video explains these levels and offers examples of when it’s appropriate to use each one:

    Delegation occurs along a spectrum. The lowest level of delegation happens when you tell other people what to do. It offers little opportunity for employees to try new approaches. The most empowering form of delegation occurs when you are able to give up most of your control over the project to the employee.

    Knowing how to delegate work helps you understand how to connect people with tasks that make the best use of their talents. When done properly, it ensures that you will get the best end-result.[7]

    When you’re deciding how to delegate work, ask the following questions:

    • Do you have to be in charge of this task, or can someone else pull it off?
    • Does this require your attention to be successful?
    • Will this work help an employee develop their skills?
    • Do you have time to teach someone how to do this job?
    • Do you expect tasks of this nature to recur in the future?

    2. Identify the Best Person for the Job

    You have to pass the torch to the right team member for delegation to work. Your goal is to create a situation in which you, your company, and the employee have a positive experience.

    Think about team members’ skills, willingness to learn, and their working styles and interests. The person you delegated will be able to carry out the work more effectively if they’re capable, coachable, and interested. When possible, give an employee a chance to play to their strengths.

    Inexperienced workers may need more guidance than seasoned veterans. If you don’t have the time to set the newer employee up for success, it’s not fair to delegate to them.

    You also have to consider how busy your employees are. The last thing you want to do is overwhelm someone by giving them too many responsibilities.

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    3. Tell and Sell to Get the Member Buy-In

    After you’ve found the perfect person for the job, you still have to get them to take on the new responsibility. Let them know why you chose them for the job.[8] When you show others that you support their growth, it builds a culture of trust. Employees who see delegated tasks as opportunities are more likely to be invested in the outcome.

    When you’re working with newer employees, express your willingness to provide ongoing support and feedback. For seasoned employees, take their thoughts and experiences into account.

    4. Be Clear and Specific About the Work

    It’s critical to explain to employees why the project is necessary, what you expect of them, and when it’s due.[9] If they know what you expect, they’ll be more likely to deliver.

    By setting clear expectations, you help them plan how to carry out the task. Set up project milestones so that you can check progress without micromanaging. If your employee has trouble meeting a milestone, they still have time to course correct before the final product is due.

    This type of accountability is commonly used in universities. If students only know the due date and basic requirements for completing major research papers, they might put off the work until the eleventh hour. Many programs require students to meet with advisers weekly to get guidance, address structure, and work out kinks in their methods in advance of deadlines. These measures set students up to succeed while giving them the space to produce great work.

    5. Support Your Employees

    To see the best possible outcomes of delegating, your subordinates need resources and support from you. Connect them with training and materials to develop skillsets they don’t already have.[10]

    It may take more time up front to make resources available, but you’ll save time by having the work done correctly. For recurring tasks, this training pays off repeatedly.

    Sometimes employees need help to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of delegating tasks. This is also a good way to monitor the delegated tasks as a leader. While you can keep track of the progress of the tasks, you are not micro-managing the employees.

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    Throughout the project, periodically ask your employees if they need support or clarification. Make it clear that you trust them to do the work, and you want to create a space for them to ask questions and offer feedback. This feedback will help you refine the way you delegate work.

    6. Show Your Appreciation

    During periodic check-ins, recognize any wins that you’ve seen on the project so far. Acknowledge that your employees are making progress toward the objective. The Progress Principle lays out how important it is to celebrate small wins to keep employees motivated.[11] Workers will be more effective and dedicated if they know that you notice their efforts.

    Recognizing employees when they do well helps them understand the quality of work you expect. It makes them more likely to want to work with you again on future projects.

    Bottom Line

    Now that you know exactly what delegation means and the techniques to delegate work efficiently, you are in a great position to streamline your tasks and drive productivity in your team.

    To delegate is to grant autonomy and authority to someone else, thus lightening your own workload and building a well-rounded, well-utilized team.

    Delegation skills might seem complicated or scary, but it gets much easier with time. Start small by delegating a couple of decisions to members of your team over the next week or two.

    More Tips for Productive Leadership

    Featured photo credit: CoWomen via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on June 1, 2021

    7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

    7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

    “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

    “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

    As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

    Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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    The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

    To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

    1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

    Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

    “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

    2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

    Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

    3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

    If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

    It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

    4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

    One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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    If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

    5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

    It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

    If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

    Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

    If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

    7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

    If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

    So, How To Get out of Busyness?

    Take a look at this video:

    And these articles to help you get unstuck:

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    Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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