You might think it’s easier to do everything yourself, but the path to productive leadership demands that you learn how to delegate effectively. So, how do you achieve that?
Everyone knows the frustration of having to re-do a task that you assigned to someone else. If it comes back incomplete or full of errors, the temptation is to decide it’s been a waste of your time and theirs. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
What are the benefits?
Before you say “never again”, it pays to look at the advantages of delegation on your business in general. They reach far beyond the potential to reduce your own workload, says Vivian Hairston Blade, writing for Forbes.
She has drawn on research from Gallup which points to clear impact of delegation on employees’ commitment and confidence. Being entrusted with key tasks and challenges can greatly improve self-esteem and engagement. It can make them feel:
- their strengths are recognised
- their superiors, and the company as a whole, are interested in them as people
- they are being offered opportunities for growth and learning
- there is someone supporting their professional development
A high level of employee engagement has huge potential for performance. According to the Gallup report, “business/work units scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly double their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half”.
Where to start?
Deciding what to delegate can be the toughest decision. It’s not good enough just to dump your most hated tasks down the line; that’s a sure recipe for employee resentment.
“The question I pose to leaders I work with is: ‘How can I shift responsibilities so that employees (or other support resources) are empowered in their work?’,” says Hairston Blade.
She advocates identifying which responsibilities play to your own strengths, then deciding which individuals could plug gaps in your skills for a particular project. Factors like availability, deadlines and levels of risk involved will also come into play.
Have a clear plan
Structure and communication are vital for effective delegation. Hairston Blade has spelt this out by creating a roadmap of the “five C’s” of delegating for leaders. In essence it suggests:
1) Clarify. Decide the outcome you want from the assignment and the process you want to follow.
2) Connect. Get in direct contact with your chosen employees and tell them about the assignment, their role in the bigger picture and why you chose them.
3) Communicate expectations. Everyone needs to understand exactly what the desired end result is and what is required of them individually. Be precise about budgets, timescales and the line of command.
4) Confirm understanding and agreement. Check that your message has come across and ask for feedback.
5) Coach. Support when needed, encourage creativity and praise success.
As a leader you know that the buck stops with you. But if you look at delegation as an asset rather than a hindrance you will build a stronger team to boost productivity.