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Five Keys to Successful Delegation


Photo of an overwhelmed woman manager looking at her computer
  1. Are you feeling indispensable?

  2. Are you working longer hours than your staff?

  3. Do you never seem to have time to plan – for important conversations, business strategies, or just general thinking time?

Delegation is one of the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capabilities. It’s one of those magical skills that has a dual benefit: Not only does it help you manage your own work, it empowers your people at the same time.

Many of my clients struggle with delegation and it’s a topic that comes up often. Since first giving you my top 10 delegation tips, I’ve honed the list down to five key steps. If you ever find yourself having trouble giving up tasks your team should be doing, notice which of these steps you might be missing.

  1. Determine what you will delegate. What the most critical things only you can do as the leader? Prioritize those tasks for yourself and see what’s left. What can other people can do better, faster or easier than you? For each team member, which tasks would provide growth for that person? Ask people about their developmental goals.

  2. Set a context for delegation. Take time to explain why a task needs to be done, its importance, and where it fits in the big picture of the organization. State your confidence in them for doing this job. Point out the benefits, e.g., “I know that you’re wanting to do more collaboration with the sales team, and this job I’m giving you will allow you to do that.” This way they won’t feel like you’re giving them the grunt work, but rather you’re helping them meet their own goals.

  3. Set clear expectations on outcomes. Align on details like authority and budget. Ask what challenges they expect and how they will deal with them. Answer questions, then get out of the way, effectively giving them the ownership. Mark on your calendar when the project is due, but don’t nag them.

  4. Meet and debrief. Make it clear that when the task is done, there will be a meeting scheduled between you and the delegated person. At that meeting, notice what they did right, be specific, and ask how you together could improve this process next time.

  5. Make delegation a team effort. Ask your team to hold you accountable for delegating meaningful work that will stretch them and offload you.

Delegating effectively can do wonders for your leadership capacity, as you free up your time for higher-level tasks and orchestrate the development of your people.

Have you experienced the freedom of delegation? What about the struggle of overload? Please add your comment below, or share with me on LinkedInTwitterFacebook or email.

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