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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

What Is Delegation and How Does It Enhance Team Management?

What Is Delegation and How Does It Enhance Team Management?

The ability to delegate is one of the hallmarks of a successful leader. Delegation is one of the best management tools for increasing employee morale, job satisfaction, trust between team members and manager, and the company’s bottom line. It also helps with time management.

While effective delegation techniques are rarely taught, the good news is that delegation is a skill like any other that can be acquired.

What is Delegation?

Delegation can be defined as “the act of empowering to act for another.”[1] With this bestowed power, a person, usually a subordinate, is able to carry out specific activities (normally given by a manager or supervisor). Delegation is a management tool designed to increase the efficiency of an organization.[2] It allows for the goals of the organization to be broken down into tasks and assigned to the team member best suited for the duty. With that said, most entrepreneurs and managers are notoriously bad at delegating. But why?

As stated earlier, most organizations don’t teach their managers how to delegate. However, there are a number of other reasons why managers are hesitant to delegate, including:

They Believe No One Can Do the Job as Well as They Can

Managers need to delegate because their responsibility is to oversee employees. They can’t and shouldn’t do all the work themselves. A leader’s job is to guide, motivate, and oversee their team members in order to reach a goal.

They Think It Takes Too Much Time to Train Someone

Part of guiding and motivating team members includes training. Yes, it will take extra time to train an employee on a new task, but you need to think of it as an investment. Imagine it takes an extra hour a day to train someone to do a task, and that training lasts a week. That’s five extra hours spent doing the task. However, after the first five days of the employee doing the task, you will have freed up five hours per week to devote to other issues.

There Is a Lack of Trust in Employees’ Motivation

Another part of a manager’s job is to develop their employees’ abilities in order to identify future leaders, as well as discover their strengths and weaknesses. Without delegation, you’ll never know the level of motivation your employees have.

They Want to Make Themselves Indispensable

If you’re worried about making yourself indispensable, you shouldn’t be. You are indispensable. Good managers and leaders are notoriously difficult to come by, and so are naturally indispensable to organizations. If you’re in a leadership position and worried about your job, learn how to be a better leader.

They Enjoy Doing the Work Themselves

While a lot of people do enjoy doing the work themselves, they like the creative process or just the idea that they can control the outcome and take credit for it. That’s not a manager’s job.

You need to be willing to give up control, accept that other people have different (and sometimes better) ways of doing things, and accept your role as facilitator or overseer.

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They Feel Bad About Giving More Work to an Overloaded Staff

Feeling that your staff is overloaded or overworked is pretty common for a manager. So, giving team members more to do can feel like you’re just dumping more work on them. However, when done right (more on that later), delegation can increase their motivation and job satisfaction.

Now that we’ve answered the question of what is delegation, let’s move on to the second part of the question:

How Does Delegation Enhance Team Management?

Effective delegation is one of the most important managerial skills you can have. The benefits of proper delegation go deeper than the increased productivity. This effects can be seen in:

Greater Trust Between Manager and Employee

When you give an employee the authority and autonomy to do a task, it is implied that you are trusting them to get it done. It also says that you think that they are competent enough to handle the task. This show of trust and confidence builds a bond between supervisor and subordinate.

Increase in Job Satisfaction

Delegating tasks or assignments to your team members allows them to take ownership and pride in their work. No one wants to be thought of as a cog in the machine, doing a job that anyone could do. Giving them the responsibility and authority to get the job done will go a long way towards helping them take pride in their work.

Increased Motivation

By delegating tasks to the appropriate employees, they get to take ownership of the result. This is their chance to shine. Everyone wants praise from the boss, and knowing that the result they come up with will be evaluated as a reflection of themselves is great motivation.

More Time for Other Important Activities

Just like a ship captain, leaders assess the conditions, plot the course, and steer the vessel. They may jump in when there’s a man down, but their main job is to worry about the big picture. Let your crew worry about paddling, and you just make sure they are going in the right direction.

In this way, you can free up time to participate in more important activities.

Developing New Skills in Your Team Members

Part of any manager’s job is to help your employees learn and grow. As employees perfect and add to their skill sets, they become more valuable to the company and the industry as a whole. This is part of their career development. It also makes your team much more flexible.

Great Evaluation Tool

As a manager, part of your job is to identify top performers and those worthy of promotion. You should also be thinking about who should replace you when you get promoted. By delegating responsibilities to your employees, you are in a great position to see who takes the bull by the horns and who only does the bare minimum.

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Taken together, the positive effects of delegation can have a synergistic effect on the efficiency, productivity and profitability of an organization.

How to Delegate Properly

We’ve talked about what delegation is and its benefits, but how can you be an effective delegator and reap the benefits we discussed? Here are some effective delegation techniques to help you get started.

1. Start From the Result and Move Backwards

When delegating a new responsibility to an employee, start by explaining what the outcome should look like. For example: “I’m going to put you in charge of X, and the purpose of X is to have ABC converted to DEF within two weeks and for under $100.” This is a way to set the goal without telling them how they must achieve it.

2. Give Your Employees Autonomy

This can be hard for managers, but you should try to step back and recognize that there are many different ways to solve a problem. By letting them figure out their own way of doing it, they will learn, and there will often be a better outcome.

3. Give Them the Authority to Do What You Ask

This is very important! Delegating responsibility for a task without giving them the authority needed to complete it is really just dumping more work on an employee. Instead of increasing motivation and job satisfaction, you’ll be creating resentment and anger.

4. Match Their Personality and Skill Set

Don’t give an introvert the task of running a meeting. Likewise, don’t put the extrovert in charge of accounting. You should have a good idea of who your employees are and what skills they possess. Delegate the right task to the right person.

5. Make Sure They Have the Right Resources

Make sure that the people you delegate to have enough time, money, training, supplies, work space and help from others to get the job done. If they don’t, then failure is not on them, it’s on you.

6. Supervise, Don’t Micromanage

The best way to do this is to establish a timeline with regular check-ins. This allows the employee autonomy while still being held accountable for the project moving forward. It also allows the employee to ask questions and receive input at regularly scheduled intervals.

7. Create a Motivating Environment

The most successful delegators are the ones that know when to be a cheerleader or coach and when to step in or step back. They are also there to celebrate the successes.

8. Be Tolerant of Mistakes

You’ll never have innovation without risk-taking, and you can’t have risk-taking without mistakes. Be tolerant and use mistakes as a learning tool, not as something to be afraid of.

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So far, we’ve dealt with the what, why and how of delegation, but how do we decide what tasks should be delegated?

Knowing What Should and Shouldn’t Be Delegated

There are a few different thoughts on this subject, one view is that, at a certain point, everything that can be delegated should be; with rare exception.

What Should Be Delegated

Conduct an audit using the six T’s to determine what tasks make the most sense to offload. [3]

1. Tiny

These are tasks that are so small that they seem inconsequential to tackle, but they add up. They are never important or urgent, and even if they only take a few minutes, they end up taking you out of the flow of more strategic work. For example, registering for a conference or event, adding it to your calendar, and booking the hotel and flight — on their own each of these things may not take much time, but taken together, they all add up.

2. Tedious

Tasks that are relatively simple probably are not the best use of your time. Very straightforward tasks can (and should) be handled by anyone but you.

For example, manually inputting a 100-item list into a spreadsheet and color-coding it or updating the KPIs in your presentation deck are all simple tasks that can be handed off.

3. Time-Consuming

These are tasks that, although they may be important and even somewhat complex, are time-consuming and do not require you to do the initial 80% of research. You can easily step in when the task is 80% complete and give approval, oversight, and/or direction on the next steps.

4. Teachable

These tasks, although appearing complicated at first, can be translated into a system and passed along, with you still providing quality checks and final approval.

For example, teaching one of your direct reports how to draft the presentation deck for the monthly all-hands meeting, and even how to be the one to deliver those updates to the team, can be a good way to free up time for yourself.

5. Terrible At

Tasks that fall into an area where you feel unequipped should generally be passed on to someone with strengths in that area. For example, if you aren’t sure how to organize the visual design of those PowerPoint slides for the team meeting, someone on your team will likely be able to step in.

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6. Time-Sensitive

These are tasks that are time-sensitive but compete with other priorities. There isn’t enough time to do them all at once, so you delegate an important and time-sensitive task that can be done in parallel to your other project-based deadlines.

For example, leaving your iPad on the plane after a flight and working to recover it before it goes completely missing into the airport lost and found abyss by calling customer service daily can take a lot of time and can be delegated to a subordinate.

What Shouldn’t Be Delegated

In contrast to the above, there are some tasks that should never be delegated and should always remain as the manager’s responsibility. Some of these include:

Company Vision and Mission Statements

These play an important role in the reputation of the company and should be taken as seriously as possible. Therefore, the responsibility for creating these should always lie with a manager or other company leader.

Hiring Decisions

Too many managers rely on outside agencies for their hiring decisions. While skill sets are important, evaluating how an employee will fit into the corporate culture is equally important, and this is best done face-to-face.

“Onboarding” Employees

It’s important for managers to take an active role in making new employees feel welcome. They should always be available and accessible to new employees.

Discipline

Passing off disciplinary duties to an administrative assistant or HR is often a sign of poor managerial skills. Managers can generally gain more respect from employees by handling this themselves.

Performance Reviews

Having employees do their own reviews and just signing off on them is a disservice to everyone involved. Managers should be personally involved in this process in order to get the most out of it.

Conclusion

At first glance, delegation can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. However, when done properly, the scope, breadth, and quality of work produced more than make up for any inconvenience.

You’ll be amazed at what happens when you arrange the workload so that you can focus only on the tasks with the highest priorities while others are working on meaningful and challenging assignments.

By implementing the practices we’ve talked about here, you’ll be able to delegate the right projects to the right people in the right way, and that is a recipe for success.

More Tips About Delegating Tasks

Featured photo credit: CoWomen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Delegation
[2] Harvard Business Review: When Empowering Employees Works , and When It Doesn’t
[3] Harvard Business Review: How to Decide Which Tasks to Delegate

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David Carpenter

Lifelong entrepreneur and business owner helping others to realize the American Dream of business ownership

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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