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Last Updated on December 1, 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 April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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