We hear a lot about delegation as an important element of work, particularly if we are in a management or a leadership role.
It means getting someone else to do things that we have a responsibility for rather than doing it ourselves. However, there is a difference between delegation and abdication. When you delegate you still retain responsibility and accountability. If you abdicate you let those go and that is not a good thing. Here are ten tips for delegating effectively without abdicating.
Reflect on how exactly you are going to delegate effectively. Think about what you’re going to delegate, how you want it carried out, who the candidates to do it are, who’s got the time to do it, what the impact of giving it to a certain individual is and so on. You need to commit to quite a bit of thinking on how to go about this.
You may want to discuss things with the people who are going to be affected by this particular piece of work being delegated. You’re about to rest some new priorities on somebody and that will have a knock-on effect within your team so you want to make sure you clear up the potential concerns that anybody may have and get the right sort of sponsorship for the project.
Have the Courage of Your Convictions
Be really confident when you let go and delegate. Make certain you’ve done all that thinking and delegated to the right person so that when you let go, you’ll be confident enough to not try and grab back control.
Give a Really Clear Remit
You don’t want any ambiguity because if the individual you’re delegating to is not clear about what they’re doing, who they’re supposed to be connecting with, what the timelines are, what outcomes are expected, what access to people and resources they need and so on, it’s not going to work out.
Be Ready for Anything
The more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be prepared to deal with anything that goes wrong or develops unexpectedly after you’ve delegated the project.
Make Yourself Available
If this is an important issue that you’ve delegated you must let the people that you’ve delegated it to know that you are available to answer any questions or provide feedback on their progress. You must let them know how to contact you. You must also set boundaries — if they’re not to contact you during meetings or after 6pm, for example, tell them.
Have Structured Time Together
Arrange to meet up with the person you’ve delegated to on a regular basis to catch up on their progress. Whether that is daily, nightly, weekly, they must know they have your full attention for that amount of time. If you keep these appointments and don’t let people down it will save you a lot of time elsewhere in your schedule because they’ve used that time with you most effectively to help get the job done.
Clarify Expected Standards of Quality
Make certain that everybody involved in the project knows what a good outcome will look like and indeed what “excellent” looks like. This will be related to the overall standards and parameters that you set for the project but it is your responsibility to make sure that those that you delegate to never lose sight of the level of quality you expect.
Give Regular Feedback
In order for you to delegate effectively and for that effectiveness to be continual, you must provide feedback on how things are going on a regular basis. You can use your structured time together to do that but there are also some things you might want to do in the moment, both when something has gone well and when something has gone less well. Don’t let it fester. Your delegation abilities will be seen by everybody as ineffective if people are doing things that are not right or not to the right standard.
Enjoy the Journey
When you delegate, think of it like a journey. Let your team know that “we’re all in this together”. We’re setting out from here and this is where we’re expecting to get to. Let’s plan and let’s enjoy what it is we’re doing to reach the destination we have co-created. Let’s enjoy this journey for what it will be, which is a fulfilling and satisfying element to our work.
About the author:
Simon North is the Founder of Position Ignition and the Career Ignition Club. Position Ignition is one of the UK’s leading career development and career planning companies. The Career Ignition Club offers a range of career support tools, advice and e-learning materials for its members.