7 tips for mastering the art of delegation

Delegation is a tricky art to master. It’s easy to slip too far into delegating everything, just as it’s hard to let go, resulting in not enough delegation. Not only that, but it’s hard to know when, how, and to whom you should delegate. Try these seven simple tips to get it right.

Pick things to delegate down

Your tasks may include lots of little things that don’t require any particular skill or knowledge to execute. Tasks such as employee work time management, tracking compliance with company service level agreement, or evaluating your team’s daily, weekly and monthly results against targets can be time-consuming, so these are the things you should absolutely delegate down to those who are in your team. If you have an assistant, this is the kind of work that they can take on for you.

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Pick what to delegate up

You’re also able to delegate things that require specific skills and knowledge, particularly if you don’t have that knowledge. You can bring in freelancers or consultants to get specific IT tasks done or to conduct training if you know that it isn’t in your wheelhouse. It’s likely, though, that you may need to secure permission from your superiors if you aren’t managing your own business.

Make it clear

When delegating, make sure to include clear instructions – it’s best to assume someone doesn’t know anything about the task and explain it in detail to avoid mistakes. Instead of simply ordering someone to prepare the capacity plan for the upcoming month, grant this person access to holiday and absence tracking tools and hand out a complete list of active employees. Also, attach step by step instructions on how to calculate capacity quickly, accurately and effortlessly. The good thing about this is that you can simply copy and paste those instructions next time, or expect the person to remember how to do the task, so you likely won’t have to write everything out often after you’ve done it once.

Know your authority

Some managers struggle with asking team members to take on extra work or tasks. However, you need to know your authority. You’re in charge, so you can tell people to do what you like. You don’t even have to ask – your employees need to do what you require them to do. Remember that and you should feel more relaxed about delegation. After all, you as a manager should make your team work as a well-oiled machine, because you are being evaluated on the basis of the performance of your team. Every team member should understand the importance of teamwork and equally care about fostering team spirit.

Empower your team

Use delegation as a way to grow your team’s skills and knowledge base, as well as to allow them to take on extra responsibility in small stages. If you notice that one person is great at assessing the workload and the other one gets professional satisfaction from training new hires, encourage them to expand the skills that may later on guarantee a promotion, bonus, or salary increase. However, by all means do not use your power of delegation as a way to throw the dirty work their way, get help with last-minute tasks that are going to be a nightmare, or so on. Empower your team by delegating ahead of time and getting the workload balanced properly.

Let go

Many managers end up with an attitude that if they want something done right, they have to do it themselves. If you find it hard to let go of your daily tasks, then there’s a way to gradually do so. Have employees work alongside you on certain tasks so that you can see they know how to do it. Then allow them to do it alone under your supervision. It will help your team members spread their wings and consequently accomplish the tasks from start to finish. Eventually, you’ll see it’s not as stressful as it seems.

Check in regularly

While no one likes the feeling of a backseat driver watching over everything they do, it’s important to check back now and then to ensure the work is being done properly. You can have regular reviews, but don’t make them so regular that employees feel harassed. Give them trust, and position your check-ins as an opportunity for them to let you know of any problems or ask for advice, rather than just a chance to see what they’ve done wrong. Assist your employees with plenty of constructive feedback. Acknowledge their attention to detail with SLA controls or growing analytical skills for processing productivity results. At the same time share your best time management tips, point out any mistakes they may be making and stress pain points that require maximum attention.

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Delegating is tough, but once you start to master it, you’ll see that it gives you a much better chance to actually get your job done. It will take a lot of weight off your shoulders once those tasks are being handled correctly.

Alex Lawson is a Financial Team Leader and a blogger, working together with other experts at Brighter Finance.