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7 Top Tips for Effective Delegation

7 Top Tips for Effective Delegation
16 July 2015 John Moore

Time is a Manager’s most precious commodity. No matter how hard you might try, it is impossible for a Manager to do everything themselves, so why do so many try?

Is it because they do not trust the people with whom they work? Is it because no one else has the required knowledge or skills? Is it that they are just control freaks? The answer is probably ‘yes’ to all of these.

3 Delegation Misconceptions

Often managers avoid delegating responsibilities with many proudly declaring, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Ninety nine per cent of the time, fear of failure and under performance and poor management of priorities is the root cause of poor delegation practices.

1. Fear of Failure and Under Performance

Managers often hold the belief that others will not be able to complete the task as well as they can. As long as they hold onto this belief, they are right. More often than not, this belief reflects reality because a manager with this belief will not give others an opportunity to prove them wrong. Failure to delegate limits people’s opportunity to learn and most importantly to practice using new skills and techniques.

2. It will be Quicker to do it Myself

Once again, reality often bears this out. Of course it is the case that it will always take longer to train and support someone else to do something you are able to do yourself. It requires you to break the vicious circle by building in time to train and support team members. To smash the mindset that ‘It will be quicker if I do it myself’, think of it as investment in time with a dividend payout of saved time in the future. A one time investment will pay dividends time and time again.

3. People are Not Capable and Let You Down

Mmm, just like you did with your manager before you were trained, supported and practiced in the task. ‘Trained, supported and practiced’, I hear you say. ‘My manager left me to my own devices – it was sink or swim!’ Well the answer is, do not make the same mistakes as your manager by neglecting to delegate, train and support your team. If you make the same mistakes, then surely they will not be capable and will let you down.

7 Top Tips for Effective Delegation

Top Tip 1:  Some Things Should Not be Delegated

Do not delegate sensitive projects to team members. If you are in charge of the project because of your expertise, complete it yourself. If the project is confidential in any way, think twice about outsourcing the work. Remember that some tasks need to be done by the person in charge. At the same time, try to avoid delegating only the ‘dirty work’ and keeping the ‘sexy’ tasks for you. Give your team members something fun and interesting to do once in awhile.

Top Tip 2: Assign Duties to the Individual Best Suited for the Project

There are many things to evaluate before delegating tasks. Consider your team’s skills, motivation, and reliability. Do not make the mistake of treating all team members equally. Some people will be more efficient than others depending upon the task and circumstances. At the same time, try not to typecast your employees. Give them opportunities to broaden their horizons and become more valuable to the team. Matching the right team member to the right task can be difficult. Start delegating small, be patient and then increase the complexity and level of responsibility gradually.

Top Tip 3: Make Your Instructions as Clear as Possible

When delegating unfamiliar tasks be very specific when explaining what is required. When delegating, leave no room for confusion and therefore, no room for error. If you have a long list of verbal instructions, type them out. This will give team members something to refer to when they are performing a task that is unfamiliar to them.

Top Tip 4: Train Two Team Members

If possible, train two people to do the same thing. This way they can refer to one another for questions, rather than coming to you. By training two people, it cuts your total training time by half, gives you twice as many options for delegating in the future and supports team working.

Top Tip 5: Be Available

When a decision needs to be made regarding a delegated task, encourage team members to use their best judgment and/or come to you for clarification. Remember effective delegation is not abdication of responsibility. Most people will need support and help to master the task, so provide them with a ‘safety net’ and be there for them – if they fall, they will only fall as far as the safety net!

Top Tip 6: Measure and Control Projects

Explain how performance will be measured and ensure team members know the level of accountability that comes with the task. Clarifying these things beforehand will make everything run much smoother. Large projects may be easier to monitor if they are broken into smaller segments. Spread the tasks throughout your team and make them report to you routinely at specific times.

Top Tip 7: Become a Coach

One of the most important parts of effective delegation is coaching. When you delegate a task, make it clear to team members that they can come to you with questions. New tasks can be confusing so have patience. You will need to continuously motivate your team and praise them for success.  If the task is not completed to the required standard involve them in evaluating their own performance and asking for ideas from them on how they could improve performance. Help them to pinpoint what went wrong and take steps to address the issue. On the other hand, when tasks are completed effectively, give your employee the recognition they deserve. Whether it is public recognition or one-on-one, team members will value being given credit for their work. Doing this not only makes them feel good, it will also motivate them to continue their on-the-job success.

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John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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