Most of my clients realize that lack of delegation is killing them. They want time to build relationships, think, plan, work on strategic projects, yet can’t dig out from their huge workload. The answer is to delegate.
Once you get better at delegating, small tasks stop falling through the cracks and things start getting done more efficiently.
Here are the top 10 tips for successful delegation:
Describe the outcome you desire – Speak in terms of the results you expect. Explain if you need a 100% job or if 80% will work. Maybe a quick and dirty solution is what is needed. Be specific and clear.
Develop your people – If you don’t trust your person has the skills necessary to do the delegated job, ask, “Where can you get assistance or resources on this project?” Do not take the monkey back and do it yourself. Your goal is to develop that person so they can do more work for you next time. You are hurting yourself in the long run if you do the work yourself. By training your extended team you are expanding your group’s value and contribution to the organization. By developing your people, you gain their insight, contributions and good work.
Determine who is best for the job – Always ask yourself, “Who is best suited to doing this specific work, me or someone else? If I do the work myself, when I need it done a second time, will I have missed a chance to develop someone else’s skill which could help me long term?”
Frame it – It’s important to determine how to frame your request, and tie it to an overall vision or goal. You also want to tie your request to an individual’s personal motivators. If you don’t know them, find out what their motivations are!
Be clear – Be crystal clear with your expectations, and expected outcomes. Show examples of what you expect. For example, say “The report should look like this template…” and show them the template. Remember to ask questions to gauge a person’s understanding of your request, and be clear when you assign tasks. Tell them, “I want you to do this,” not, “We need to do this.” This includes clarity with regard to milestones (e.g., “This is due Monday, but give me a look at the proposal Thursday by email at 5pm.”). Be sure to ask questions and request that they summarize their understanding of the assignment or their role.
Hold others accountable – An IT manager client recently told me she used the word “we” too much and after a meeting, no one took the action items since the word “we” was used. Everyone assumed she was going to take the action! A simple switch to “I want you, Joe, to do this,” solved the problem of accountability.
Negotiate – Understand what your team members need and expect, ask questions, be up front and be a role model for transparency – all this while being open to creating win/wins. Be open to give and take.
Match skills to ability – Praise good work in public, and critique work in private. Ensure that the skill of the person you are assigning to the task matches the job that needs to be done.
Give constructive feedback – The best time to give constructive feedback is right before you need the person to work with you again (e.g., “Dave, last time you gave the proposal to me a day late. Please send it to me by Wednesday this time and if you have questions, can you ask me earlier so we can figure it out together? Thanks.”).
Use your newly found time wisely – Improving your delegation skills means you have more time to do what you do well, allowing you to do higher level work, think, analyze, learn, strategize, plan and build relationships.