How to Delegate Effectively!

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When you begin to become recognised as a successful leader, you quickly realise that there are more demands on your time than you can possibly fill. This is a common problem faced by leaders all around the world, regardless of culture, language, business or sector, and something I myself have battled with for a very long time. The solution to this challenge is developing a process of effective delegation. Yet why do so many leaders hesitate to do it?

The biggest barrier to delegation is overcoming the attitude that you must do it all! It becomes a leader’s curse when you adhere to the adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

The harsh truth is, we may think we know what delegation is but few of us actually do it well, or even at all. Instead of deliberately growing new capability in the people around us, we waste time hoarding responsibility to protect our turf, micromanage, and indiscriminately dump tasks. It leads, says Dave Stitt, Author of Deep & Deliberate Delegation, to the cultivation of burned-out managers, bored or swamped staff, and choke points in teams and organisations that quite frankly leaves us all destined to fail. Believe me, I’ve nearly been there!

Delegation is very different from simply assigning someone a task or project that falls into his or her established job description or requirements. When you delegate, you give someone else one of your job tasks to complete with the authority and control to complete it properly. Delegation is by no means abdication. You share accountability for the assignment as much as the person you assign it to, which is why checkpoints are established to monitor overall progress. Just as the outcomes of your entire department fall upon your shoulders, you are also responsible for the ultimate success of the delegation process.

When delegation is done properly and for the right reasons, it helps foster a climate of trust and creates growth opportunities for your employees. Here are five principles that have helped me to create an effective delegation process, which I hope you can take learning from too:

1. Determine what you will delegate

Effective delegation begins with defining your responsibilities. I find it best to write down all of my activities and responsibilities. Review your master list and categorise all of the items into two secondary lists: things you alone must do and things that others could be involved with to help you complete. Anything that falls into the second list presents an opportunity for delegation.

2. Identify the right person to delegate the task to

Andrew Carnegie said, “The secret to success lies not in doing your own work, but in recognising the right person to do it.” The key to finding the right person to delegate an assignment to is matching their skills and attitude to the task at hand.

3. Be clear on the desired results

When the results are clear, it allows the employee to use their own creativity and resources to accomplish the task. An added benefit of effective delegation is the individual may find a better and more effective way to accomplish the task or achieve the desired results than you could have imagined had you tried to do it yourself.

4. Be even clearer on your employee’s responsibility and authority with regard to the delegated task

Use your leadership skills to clearly communicate the expectation, responsibilities, and timeline. And as you do so, create a warm and approachable environment to invite your employee to share their understanding. (There’s nothing worse than leaving them sat there like a rabbit in the headlights!)

5. Schedule key check points

Your time may be precious but never too precious to check in on your teams so schedule some key milestones and checkpoints that are reflected in both of your calendars. The follow up meetings should be focused on two things-monitoring progress and determining the need for assistance. The number of follow up meetings will vary based on the scope of the task or project and whether the employee is new or a long-term member of the department. (Important note, check points should not be used in the absence of trust. You cannot revert to micromanaging here!)

Once you have created a solid process for delegation, stick to it, and avoid reverse delegation. What’s that? Well, unsurprisingly not everyone wants to willingly take on the task you’re about to dish out. At times, a team member or employee may try to dump the delegated task back to you, or you may feel tempted to take it back especially if they seem to be struggling. Helping him or her stretch outside his or her comfort zone is all part of a positive growth and development. Use the scheduled follow up meetings to manage the delegation process, provide encouragement, and monitor the results!

Effective delegation isn’t easy, and it’s something you actively have to work at every day to keep getting it right. Long before the pandemic turned our world upside down, I knew that the method of effective delegation was absent within my business. But when you’re busy and in the thick of it, I simply couldn’t break the cycle… until I met Lorna at Vibrant Thinking.

At the point of reaching out to Lorna, the main challenges we were facing as a business were Communication, Accountability and Blame Culture – of which all are heavily impacted by a lack of effective delegation. Through Lorna’s unique workshop training, she transformed how I approached delegation to my staff, with a huge emphasis on enabling my team to create their own solutions. Because when they have the freedom and flexibility to create their own solutions, they have the ability to become truly invested in the task at hand, and in the business overall. Boosting productivity, performance and most importantly, employee wellbeing.

To see how Lorna and I transformed the outlook of Geon Training Solutions, please check out our video below:

Geon Vibrant Thinking Video

Effective delegation is the answer to A LOT of problems, so it seems crazy that it’s still something that many leaders resist. Having gone through the motions myself, the biggest piece of advice I can give to any leader reading this is: DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO DO IT PROPERLY.

By taking learnings from my journey, and following the five principles above, I want you to start effectively delegating so that you can win back time to do the things that really matter. I want you to use it as a tool to grow deeper relationships with your colleagues and customers to see the results you truly desire. I want you to fully occupy YOUR position as the great leader you are by being at the forefront of unleashing the talent around you. And above all, I want you to cut yourself some slack and give yourself some time to just breathe. We only get this life once, and suffering burnout shouldn’t be part of it.

If you’d like to share your story of how effective delegation has improved your wellbeing, as well as your business’ then I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a DM or contact me via nadia@geonts.co.uk

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