Often those in Leadership positions, when attempting to effectively meet the requirements of their position, find themselves doing too much at work. This occurs because they feel overly responsible for the output of those under their supervision. They may end up completing tasks in order to know that it was done to their satisfaction. This can occur when the description of their responsibilities remains vague, thus they are not sure what tasks to delegate, and how much authority to release. At other times they struggle because they simply do not have effective delegation skills. When delegation is not properly executed, resentment and jaded attitudes can develop. Whether it is resentment from the Leader toward their employees for not doing a good enough job, or vice versa, improper delegation can destroy a company’s culture and the morale of employees. Improper delegation can cause employees to be given too few tasks, making them frustrated and not feel trusted or empowered. It can also cause an overburdening of tasks to employees who are not trained to complete them. Often, either the wrong people are completing a task, or it’s found that teams are doubling up, causing a duplication of service. These situations can be frustrating and time consuming. Sadly, they are a daily occurrence in some businesses.
Delegation occurs constantly. It is the responsibility of the Leader to see that it is done properly. So how does proper delegation occur? These 5 steps can help provide a blueprint for any task requiring delegation, improving your delegation skills as a Leader.
1. Delegation is Not a Cop-out
Many Leaders feel guilty while delegating tasks. They may feel that delegating a task is just a fancy way of saying “dropping it on someone else.” The truth is that delegation is an essential skill for impactful Leaders. Delegation takes time and skill on the part of the Leader and, when done correctly, can improve productivity and morale in surprising ways. When you finally delegate the task, remember that you are not avoiding your responsibilities. On the contrary, delegating properly is a required part of your job as a Leader. The concept of delegation is to make sure that the people completing a task are those actually responsible for it. Mastery, just like any other skill, takes time and patience.
2. Delegate to the Best Equipped Employee
We all have our unique skills and strengths. It is to the detriment of the company to have a task completed by one individual for austerity’s sake, when delegating the task to the most well equipped individual is possible. Not only is resentment not developing in the employee who completes the task, customers receive the best product. Take the time to understand the talents of each employee under your care. It is also beneficial to encourage your employees to be honest about what tasks they enjoy and what tasks they avoid. As tasks appear, you will improve your ability to properly delegate the task to the right person.
3. Be Clear
When you are delegating the task, it is important that you give your employees the respect you would want. Give the task and be clear about what needs to be done. This means to describe what the finished product should look like. Don’t leave the description as ‘more’ or ‘fewer.’ What does more look like? How does the employee undertaking the task know when ‘more’ has been met? Assumptions often occur at this point. Leaders not maintaining contact and communicating well with their employee, may assume that simply telling someone to complete a task is guidance enough. This then leads to jobs not being completed fully, and frustration on both sides. Take the time to lay out the vision for employees, so they know which way they are going with a task.
4. Individualize Support
In conjunction with delegation, a strong Leader is able to not only identify the strengths of their employees, but how to motivate each one individually. If you delegate a task to one of your employees, be sure to individualize how you support them through the task. Some employees respond well to a clearly defined time frame, while others feel stress when put under the clock. As the Leader, one of your main responsibilities is supporting your employees. Don’t work against yourself by using cookie-cutter motivation techniques. Take the time to identify how each employee thrives, and pursue those methods.
5. Empowerment and Trust
Most importantly, when you delegate tasks, believe that they can accomplish the task. Empowerment and Trust are some of the strongest tools a Leader has. These times of delegation act not just as ways to streamline productivity, but as a fundamental skill for building a healthy work culture. “Trust begets trust.” As you show your trust in your employees, they trust each other, they trust you, and most importantly they trust their own capabilities. After time, a culture of trust is able to aid in the delegation task, because it is understood that proper delegation fosters a healthy work environment.
As you improve your skills as a Leader, be sure to remind yourself that you will never stop improving. Give yourself opportunities for growth and utilize effective techniques for improving production and developing an empowering culture. Your team is your greatest asset. Allow yourself to get to know them and understand their talents. Accurate delegation will improve and productivity will increase.
Lorna Hegarty, an Internationally Certified Master Coach, is the author of “The Seven Essential Practices of Great Leaders”. She is the President of LCH Resources Limited, a Human Resources Coaching and Consulting Organization.