Learning to delegate is one of the toughest skills for many managers. After all, managers earn their positions by being good at doing the work themselves – not at passing the buck. But effective delegation isn’t an attempt to get out of work. It’s an exercise in putting the resources you have to their highest and best use.
When you delegate effectively, you:
- build engagement and ownership among employees, who feel challenged and valued;
- ensure the most important tasks go to the people best equipped to do them; and
- clear your own desk so you can focus your own energies most efficiently.
Here’s how to practice delegation to build the productivity of your team:
- Start small. Ease yourself into learning how to delegate by delegating the smallest tasks first. As your team accomplishes tasks successfully, delegate bigger tasks. This will also help your team learn to manage the workload in stages.
- Prioritize tasks by skill. Create a priority system that allows you to rank tasks quickly by skill. The highest-skilled tasks will generally stay on your own plate, unless you have someone with a specialized capability in that area. Lower-skilled tasks can and should be delegated, especially if they require significant effort.
- Assign tasks by skill and interest levels. Get to know your team’s strengths, weaknesses, skills and interests so you can assign tasks to the person with the greatest number of relevant skills and the greatest level of interest in the task. By delegating according to both skill and interest, you ensure that tasks are handled competently, and you also build engagement in your employees and demonstrate that their career goals – as well as their skills – are valued.
- Include instructions and keep the door open. When you delegate, always include instructions for how the task should be done. Make yourself available to answer questions, but don’t “hover” or micromanage. Instead, evaluate results and provide feedback.
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