Let’s face it– we didn’t work to become a manager, leader, or garden variety business boss just to squander our time and energy on small ticket items that, while essential, require little thought or skill to complete.
There is a way out through delegation, but there are some tried-and-true methods to get the most from your delegation strategies. Consider the following when deciding what to take on and what to task out to a subordinate.
1) Focus on high-value activities.
When you’re bogged down sweating the small stuff, what’s on the backburner? What are the real big picture items you feel you should be devoting your time to instead of the small fries?
Make sure that once you delegate the low-value activities, you use that new opening in your schedule to make headway on the things that really matter to the big picture and the bottom line.
2) Do what you do best.
As Einstein said, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Fish were made to swim, after all, not climb!
The same principle applies here. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will assist you in retaining control over the areas where you produce the best results while delegating the things you don’t do well. Win-win.
3) Delegate to someone you trust.
Remember– you’re still the boss! You will only hurt the operation if you simply hand out tasks like holiday favors.
Be sure whomever you trust to complete the low-value items from your to-do list has illustrated competence and reliability. They must be able to do the job in order to be trusted with the job in the first place.
4) Define the task.
Many seasoned professionals know that weird things happen when things are open to interpretation. Save yourself the hassle by clearly identifying all components of the task before it is delegated.
If your employee is unsuccessful in completing the task, review the definition and the information you provided. Were you 100% clear? If not, revise the instructions and try again.
5) Set a deadline.
If the task you are delegating is not time-based, your employee may vanish and leave you with uncertainty and unease. Set a deadline to ensure it is done in a timely fashion.
If the task is truly time-based, be sure to set the deadline with ample time to review the performance. This way you are able to review the quality and completeness of the job in advance of the actual deadline.
6) Establish benchmarks.
Employees feel accomplished when they make progress on crucial tasks. Be sure to provide benchmarks both to serve as morale boosts as well as ensure the task is being completed appropriately and in a timely fashion.
7) Agree on resources.
Understand that tasks that are simple for you may be simple only because it is you. Collaboration with peers, for instance, may be easy since you are the boss, whereas subordinates may be subject to more runaround in pursuit of the same result. The task may also require materials or the work of other employees to be completed.
Consider these resources ahead of time and discuss them with the employee you will delegate the task to. Understanding is crucial to the end result.
8) Agree on consequences.
There may be a tacit understanding that you, as a supervisor, expect the task to be completed and failure to do so will lead to progressive discipline.
Don’t assume. Explicitly state your expectations and what will happen if the task is not completed to satisfaction. In fact…
9) Put it in writing.
If it isn’t in writing, it means virtually nothing. Make the delegation, parameters of the task, resources required, and consequences of the failure official by writing it up. This provides a concrete framework for your employee to work within and official stakes to the arrangement.
10) Inspect the result.
It goes without saying that the final stop to proper delegation is to inspect the result. At first, this is imperative to letting your staff know that you are invested in the task’s completion and their personal success, but the inspections may become more intermittent as the employee shows reliability and competence on the job.