Delegation, put most simply, involves the assignment of a specific task or project by one person to another, and the person’s commitment to complete the task or project. It is one of the most important skills demonstrated by successful leaders and one often neglected or overlooked by “overworked” leaders. Effective delegators spend time planning work assignments and organizing resources to achieve business goals in the most productive way possible.
When you delegate, you not only transfer responsibility to another person, but also accountability for maintaining established standards.
Effective delegation can have short- and long-term benefits for you, your staff, and your organization. When you delegate, you can reduce your workload and stress level by removing from your “to-do” list tasks that others are qualified to do. This increases the time available to you for focusing on projects that require your particular skills and authority, as well as higher-level tasks such as long-term planning and policy development.
For the most effective delegation, follow these guidelines:
1. Encourage your staff to share their special interests and time availability for new projects.
2. Build a sense of shared responsibility for the unit’s overall goals.
3. Avoid dumping only tedious or difficult jobs on your staff. Instead, delegate projects and tasks that spark staff interest and can be enjoyable.
4. Provide possible career opportunity for a staff member by delegating projects, tasks, or functions that involve high visibility with your manager or a high-level manager in another organization.
5. Delegate to people whose judgment and competence you trust. Your ability to select the right person reflects your skill in making decisions and setting goals.
6. Recognize that delegation is a learning experience for you and your staff, and offer training or coaching as needed.
7. Develop trust in a less skilled staff member by delegating very structured assignments and providing the support needed for the person to develop increased competence.
8. Whenever possible, delegate an entire project or function, not just a small piece; this will likely increase motivation and commitment.
9. Create clear guidelines for follow-up, monitoring and feedback.
10. Maintain open lines of communication. Say “Let me know if you run into any problems you cannot handle.”
11. Clearly define goals, expected outcomes, and measures of success to minimize wasted time and resources and ensure the task, project, or function is completed successfully.