The further you progress in your organisation, the more likely you will find the need to delegate tasks. Delegation can be either a positive or negative experience for you and your staff, depending largely on how you manage it. Follow this nine-step plan for effective delegation and you’ll find the whole process much simpler:
1.Define the task Before you consider where to delegate the task to, you need to define the task. Be clear that this task needs delegating. What are your reasons for delegating it? Is it a task you find too hard to do? If so, perhaps you need to consider developing your skills to manage the task, or, delegating upwards. Be clear what’s involved in completing the task, what your required results are, and make sure this fits in with your overall strategy for your business. Before you delegate, you need to be really clear that the task is valuable and necessary.
2.Choose the people Ideally, you will have teams and individuals who, between them, cover all the skills and experience needs you have. Think of the other person first – does this task suit their strengths? It would be demoralising for an employee to be given a task that is clearly not suitable for them and gives them no fair opportunity to perform. From your point of view, you need to be able to rely on the person or people you delegate the task to, to be able to complete the task to the required standard and deadline.
3. Assess ability and training needs As I said, look at your staff’s strengths and delegate tasks that play to these. For example, you need to give a presentation task to someone who is confident talking in front of other people. However, if your team’s skills set is incomplete, or the task requires new skills, you need to consider whether to invest in training. Is this something you can train them to do? Will you need to invest in bringing in a professional trainer? It could prove a worthwhile investment for you to have a trained person you can turn to regularly, or in times of greater pressure.
4. Explain the reasons Your staff need to understand the purpose of what they do. This is just as important with delegated tasks as it is with their regular work. Make sure you explain the value of the task to the organisation, the impact it will have and what you value in that team member that made you choose them to do the work.
5. Define requirements When you’re under pressure yourself it’s tempting to say “just do it!” Avoid this lack of clarity. People need boundaries around what they do. Make sure you include in your brief, a clearly defined set of requirements. Are there criteria you can define that they need to meet before they return the work to you? This will help them understand what is required of them and plan the work accordingly. This also helps you to keep it clear in your mind what you are going to be receiving back from your team and how it fits in with the rest of your work.
6. Consider resources required It may be that further resources are required to complete the task – perhaps materials, software, new hardware etc. Consider these needs ahead of time so that you can have things on place for your team ready for them to do the work. It makes it easier for them to take on the task if you have shown the consideration and forethought in planning for their needs to do what you are asking of them.
7. Agree deadlines It seems obvious, but again, under pressure we can easily become either too vague or too demanding. Make sure the deadline you set is realistic and achievable. Remember SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Constrained). This is where your earlier planning is also useful – don’t leave delegation to the last minute. Creating a crisis situation is not helpful to anyone. Think ahead about when you need the work, and allow time for reviewing the work and giving feedback.
8. Support and communicate Delegation is not simply a matter of handing over a task and letting people get on with it. Management should be a two-way street. As much as you need your team’s support, they need support from you. Make sure they are comfortable at all stages with the task, and are clear, as they progress, what is required of them. Also, let them know promptly of any changes to requirements that crop up.
9. Feedback on results We all need some feedback on how we’re doing; it helps us keep a realistic idea of where we are and what is going on. Make sure you give your team fair and honest feedback about their performance on the task. If you receive praise from higher up in the organisation, pass it on to them. If you need to give any negative feedback, make sure you surround it with positive comments about the work produced and the team or person’s value to the organisation. That way, you’re more likely to win co-operation in revising the work, and next time you need to delegate.
Try this process the next time you know you will need to delegate a task. You may be surprised at the improvements a little planning and clarity can make. Always make sure you communicate with your team.
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