If your aim is to become a successful leader, delegation is a critical skill you’ll need to have in your back pocket.
You’ve definitely heard this before, and you’ve even heard it from us. But when it comes right down to it, you might not understand what delegation really entails, or how to do it effectively for your team.
Whether you’re a new team leader or a seasoned veteran, proper delegation is the key to managing your team’s workload and helping your people provide value. Here’s how to make this strategy work for you.
Come Up With a Plan
If you’re just learning the basics of delegation, you’re probably staring at your workload and wondering where to begin.
Take a look at your to-do list and figure out the priority of your tasks. Any tasks that require your knowledge or expertise are off-limits, but tasks that require lower knowledge and skill levels should be the first to go. Next, consider your team. Hopefully, you have a good handle on each member’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any areas you’d like them to develop. As you decide where each task should go, you’ll want to choose the member who fits the bill by skill or by area of development—not by convenience or workload.
The tasks on your list may seem basic to you, especially if you’ve been taking care of them solo. But your team may not know your process or preferences, and they might not be aware of any deadlines. The first time you delegate the task, make sure you take them aside to communicate the instructions and answer any questions they have. Depending on the task, these instructions may venture into the territory of actual teaching. This is more likely to be the case if you’re delegating a task to a team member you’re working to develop in a certain area.
One caveat here: be patient. Whether your team is familiar with the tasks or not, it will almost certainly take them longer to finish than if you did it yourself. That’s not an excuse to grab the task back from them! Trust your team to do their work, and trust that they’ll get better at it.
Delegation isn’t a one-and-done procedure, especially the first time. As your team takes on new tasks, make sure to touch base often using your delegation skills. Give them opportunities to ask questions or seek help. This is also a great moment to offer feedback so they understand how they’re faring. However, be careful not to let your check-ins turn into micromanagement. If you have trouble backing away, work out a formal schedule of touching base, and be careful not to stray from it.
When it comes down to it, you may find it hard to let go. But using these strategies—along with a little time and practice—can help you understand why delegation is a valuable addition to any leader’s toolkit. Plus, learning to make tough calls and provide guidance helps grow your leadership skills, and who doesn’t love that?
If you’re looking for more of the skills and strategies that will make you an effective leader, don’t forget about our mastermind groups! These are great, personalized opportunities to take your learning to the next level.