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Leadership Skill Drill : How to Delegate Tasks Effectively
Delegation is an essential leadership skill and an important tenet of leadership development. A leader needs to provide direction, guidance, and support, but it is also the leader’s job to involve other people and share out the workload. The leader who fails to do that will find his/her career bogged down, stuck in a bottomless marsh of menial tasks, stress, and increasing expectations.
If you are such a leader, there is a simple question you need to ask yourself. Do you delegate enough?
Do you delegate enough?
Delegation offers the intelligent leader tremendous opportunities to succeed. By improving your delegation-related leadership skills, you:
- Free up your time to focus on activities that generate more value for your organization. Thus you become a more valuable asset to your company.
- Train and mentor your employees, using delegation as an ad-hoc leadership development program.
- Empower your employees, increasing their self-esteem and sense of importance.
- Instill a sense of psychological ownership and involvement in your subordinates, improving employee retention and workplace satisfaction.
How Do You Delegate Tasks Effectively?
Delegation requires an upfront investment of time and effort on your part. You need to be aware of this cost and be willing to absorb it. To defeat your resistance to delegation, you have to see the bigger picture, and with it, the benefits that delegation will offer you in the future.
- Find the right tasks to delegate and be specific about the outcomes you expect. The first step of successful delegation is identifying tasks that someone else can do in your stead without negatively impacting the quality of the work. Such tasks can include work that does not call for your expertise, and work from which your employees would derive some kind of benefit. Your delegation should empower your employees while freeing up time and opening opportunities for you.
- Be careful about your choice of employees to whom you delegate tasks. Such employees need to possess the right skills and abilities, and they have to be available.
- Provide plentiful information when you delegate tasks to avoid confusion. Include details on the outcome you expect, how you want the results delivered, and when you need them. Make your instructions and expectations concerning the task as concise as possible.
- If you delegate work that takes a longer time to complete, make sure you check on the progress. That will allow you to correct mistakes as they occur, and provide positive feedback to elevate employee morale.
- When you catch mistakes in your delegated work, address them using a neutral tone. Focus on the errors rather than the person who committed them. Offer practical solutions that will help your reports avoid such setbacks in the future.
Offer solutions and bridge problems.
- It makes sense to set up processes for tasks that you plan to delegate frequently/regularly. A simple written list of instructions will help you avoid mistakes and allow you to delegate to different people without having to explain everything separately to everyone. You can even create a video of yourself delivering the instructions or completing the work to make it more personal.
- Address employees’ resistance to delegation. The most common reason for such resistance is that your employees feel they do not receive enough support. If that is indeed the case, your reports may not have time to complete delegated work, or they may not have the required experience. They may also fear failure. Address this situation through positive feedback, additional training, and generous deadlines.
- Your subordinates may also resist delegation due to fear of peer reactions and scapegoating. Such symptoms are indicative of a toxic organizational culture that you need to defuse before you can effectively delegate work.
- Selfishness, and not willing to make the extra effort for the common good, is also a possible impediment to effective delegation. If you find this to be the case, have a sitdown with your employees and re-iterate the need to place organizational interests higher up on their list of priorities.
- Show gratitude and appreciation. Reward your employees for work well done.
To transcend the condition of adequacy as a leader and aim for greatness, you need to learn how to delegate, and you need to delegate more.
Are you looking to brush up on your leadership skills? I invite you to check out my books as well as my speaking and leadership coaching services.