The Art of Delegation

September 8, 2023
The Art of Delegation

The Art of Delegation

Renowned American industrialist and philanthropise once said: “No one will make a great business who wants to do it all themselves or take all the credit.” We have to admit, it’s a fair point Mr C.

Whether you’re a director, manager or team leader, delegating can be a powerful tool. It frees you up for other tasks, while giving team members a sense of ownership and extra responsibility. Plus, it shows the individual that you trust them, which is vital if you’re trying to build a successful team. But knowing when and how to redirect tasks to others can be a tricky tightrope. Here a few pointers to help.

1 Carefully choose the work you want to delegate

You can’t delegate everything. It’s important to choose tasks that are in some connected to the worker you had in mind. Has someone in your team shown interest in developing a new skill? Think about assigning a task that builds on that. Or choose a project that connect with a team member’s specific professional goal.

2 Let it go

The peeps from ‘Frozen’ were bang on the money when they sang about ‘Let it go’. Delegating can be hard to do, especially if you’re used to handling all the ‘important’ stuff yourself. But starting with the small jobs and being patient means that letting go of a little responsibility will do everyone good in the long term.

3 Invest in training

If you’re a bit unsure whether someone is up for a certain task you’ve delegated, invest in some training. It gives the individual more confidence, and you a little more peace of mind. It won’t happen overnight, but it’s a great way of trusting assignments to people. And remember, training is an investment in both your employees’ skill sets, and your reduced workload!

4 Create clear goals and guidance

Make it absolutely clear what you expect from the task. Set clear goals, such as when the task needs to be completed by, how often you need a check-in, what does success look like, and whether any tools are needed to get the job done. This is especially important if you have a remote team set-up. You don’t want someone feeling isolated, plugging away at an assignment that’s alien to them. Make sure you’re available for support.

5 Annnnnnd step away

OK, you’ve delegated a task to, say, Carol. Chances are, Carol is more nervous than you about it all. She doesn’t want to let you down. So once you’ve given her the task, step away. Give her space to get her head around what’s expected. Check up on her, yes. But don’t demand updates every ten minutes. Perhaps set up a review once the task has been completed so you can both share your learnings. Good old Carol.

6 Celebrate and praise

Go out of your way to credit the team member for completing their delegated task. It will give them a huge morale boost, and show other team members that taking on more responsibility is a good thing.

If you fancy a bit of homework, check out ‘The Hard Work Myth’ by Barnaby Lashbrooke. His amazing book reinforces many of the points we’ve made