If you have ever wondered how to delegate effectively, here are five facts about successful delegation. But first let’s set the scene.
Delegation is the assignment of tasks or (ideally) responsibilities to someone working for you. It is giving them authority to varying degrees. Delegation is asking your people to do something, usually, by describing the outcome the leader is after. It includes giving them a time frame and a budget if necessary. The goal is that you don’t hear from your employee until they achieve the outcome or if there is a problem.
True delegation involves giving authority to make appropriate decisions in order to achieve the desired result. Delegating without giving authority is called directing. You tell them what to do and how to do it and require them to get your approval for every step they’re taking. This kind of behaviour might be necessary for new team members or for new projects or tasks. But it is certainly not effective long-term.
The opposite of delegation is doing it yourself, obviously. The advantage of that is, of course, the task is done perfectly, and we are in control (hear my sarcasm here). However, there are valid reasons for not delegating. For example, you should continue making strategic decisions which affect your organisation long-term.
So glad you asked. Here are the first two facts about successful delegation.
Once you master the skill of delegation, you’re able to maximise your productivity and optimise your time management. Delegating effectively releases you to attend to more important matters. It makes room for strategic thinking instead of being caught up in tasks that others can do for you. It also enables your team members to make decisions quickly without having to involve you. And most important of all, delegation avoids the productivity killer: micromanagement.
Both you and your people will develop skill sets once you delegate effectively. Even your relationship will improve as well because delegation empowers people and shows that you trust them. It is a profound skill set that benefits you both. Moreover, your people are likely to be more committed to you as their leader and to the organisation. They will also take more ownership in their work which enhances their performance. If that is not a worthy return on your investment?
Delegation does not come without its challenges. We shouldn’t delegate too little, but also not too much. We need to make sure to delegate the right things to the right people and make sure to have the best motive in mind. If we delegate only what we just don’t want to do, for example, our people will figure that out quickly.
To find out how you can delegate more effectively here are the last three facts about successful delegation.
Trust is the currency of any relationship. In leadership, you don’t only need to trust others but also yourself. To delegate successfully, you need to trust your internal judgment about what to delegate to whom. You need to build the kind of relationships with your team members that enable you to trust them. The biblical principle ‘if you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones’, helps to find the right people for the job.
One of the reasons why we don’t delegate is that we don’t seem to have the people with the right skills on our team. However, more often than not, it is us lacking the skills…to delegate and to develop the skills of our people along the way. Another reason why we don’t delegate is that we have the people with the right skills (yes, the opposite of the first reason). In fact, they are the experts in certain fields but: we are afraid of losing control! Which is sad because we would have hired them because of their skills in the first place.
The Situational Leadership Model (Hersey and Blanchard) is a great tool to visualise this process and to understand the strategy that is required to get from directing to delegating. It involves highly supportive behaviour that equips and empowers the person you develop to take on more responsibility. (Read more about the Situational Leadership Model here.) It is important to understand that it still requires a process if the people are highly skilled because we still need to build a trust relationship before we can delegate. The time frame in which this process takes place can vary.
Depending on the importance and complexity of the project/task/responsibility, delegation is one of the hardest but most rewarding leadership skills. It is worth developing to become a more effective leader.
Brian Tracy says that “in old-school thinking, people used to say that, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself.’ In new-school thinking, however, the correct statement is, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to learn how to delegate it properly so that it can be done to the proper standard’.”
I would add that if you want your organisation to thrive you need to learn to delegate because it will grow yourself and your team.
PS. Book a FREE 45-min leadership strategy session here.