Delegation is one of the hardest things in leadership and management. It’s also a key to success: you cannot do it all, no matter who you are, what it is, or what your goals are. When leadership moments call for delegation, or when you’re ready to start leveling up your skills, here are a few things to think about to make sure your delegation is on point:
Delegation happens for a few reasons. Make sure before you decide to delegate things – so having others do a task that you’d otherwise have to do – you think about why you’re delegating. Are you out of time? Are you increasing responsibility for someone else (or for yourself)?
Effective delegation will never happen when you are throwing something at someone else in a moment of panic. Sure, things might get done, and they might even get done well – but it’s always better to build in some structure and learning into delegation if you’d like it to be a sustainable thing, and not just throwing buckets of water at fires.
When, What and Who
Now that you’ve moved past the “everything is on fire, and this is fine” stage of your life, and you’re ready to build a structure for delegation, be sure to give yourself enough grace and time to do it right! If you don’t understand how to fully do the task, and how to explain it to another person, then you need to spend some time practicing this. For example, think of something that happens in your day to day work that you’d like to delegate out. This could be shopping for groceries or updating a spreadsheet. You do it all the time – and now it’s time to delegate it.
Explain it as simply as possible.
Not so easy, right? Let’s take both examples. First, shopping for food for the week. I could tell my husband just to do this, and we might need to make 3-5 trips to the store during the week because I didn’t mention the task ALSO involves writing out the meals for the week and planning for leftovers and late nights. Now, the spreadsheet – I could tell my new hire to update it, but it might not get saved in the format that’s helpful, or the cells from past programs might not get moved over.
Not that easy.
You need to be able to be clear and concise with the task or tasks you’re delegating, or you’ll be disappointed in the results. When you’re thinking about the specific task and how to explain it to get the results you’re looking for, think about the person you’re explaining it to, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. If you give them a task that firmly falls in their weaknesses and expect a 100% success rate immediately, you will probably be extremely disappointed.
Feedback and Follow Up
You did it! You are delegating! Now you’re done, right?
If you aren’t offering feedback and following up with the person you’ve delegated work to, the work might not be what you want it to be – and might turn into something completely different.
If you aren’t scheduling regular feedback sessions, you’re already behind. So many people think feedback just has to happen when things go “wrong” – and if that’s the only time you’re giving it, feedback is going to be a feared and negative trip.
Take time to follow up with the task and the person you’re delegating to. Scheduling feedback sessions (both for “Hey, this is great!” and “Hey, this needs some work!”) is a great way to not only ensure success, but it also helps you understand, as the delegator, what you might need to work on.
The best way to get better at delegating? Just start.