Through the process of delegation, you empower others with the authority to complete agreed-upon tasks while you are still responsible for those tasks. Leaders often need to give up their identity as a producer and think of themselves more as one who inspires others to produce.
Pros and Cons of Job Delegation
As you train your team members to complete tasks, they’ll gain more confidence and your organization will be more efficient as people do work they’re suited to. You’ll also free up more time for you to strategize and plan your team’s goals and actions, rather than executing the work yourself.
Another positive is that job delegation tends to increase employee loyalty, as they see that you care about their development and are helping them gain new abilities.
If you’re concerned about improving employee morale, building trust, or helping employees get more interested in their work, delegation is your tool.
However, some employees can abuse the power that’s delegated to them. Miscommunications between you and your employees can cause confusion about what is expected. Delegated work can be slower than you need or of lower quality. And some employees aren’t motivated to do certain tasks—or invested in them. But you can overcome the disadvantages of delegation. And that’s worth it because delegation is necessary for almost all businesses.
4 Strategies for Effective Job Delegation
Good delegators aren’t born, they’re made. It’ll take effort over time to train your staff and set up the systems needed to delegate effectively. Use these four strategies to improve your skills.
Break Tasks Into Different Levels
Create a system for sorting tasks. Break them into 4–6 levels, based on how much energy and expertise is needed for each type. One possible system (heard at the 80/20 Summit 2017) looks like this—with categories 1 and 2 being performed by you or other suitable leaders:
- Higher-level skills, like important communication, and access to people and information
- Setup and coordination
- Maintenance and reporting
- Customer service and technical support
- Common skills, such as clerical tasks
Delegate to the Right Person
Get to know your people’s abilities, weaknesses, and ability to learn new skills. Find out what’s interesting and boring to each of them. Then, when you delegate, remember it’s better to assign a task to the person most capable of accomplishing it than to someone who just has the least to do.
If an employee is unsuccessful at a task, it’s okay to admit that it wasn’t a good fit and to try someone else. Keep communicating with team members to find out what tasks motivate them or if they are feeling overwhelmed in their workload. Keep adjusting and tweaking the system.
Give Detailed Instructions or Training When Necessary
If you wonder how to inspire employees, often they just need enough knowledge and training to accomplish tasks. Even if tasks seem easy to you, it’s often a smart policy to prepare detailed instructions for many or all tasks.
If none of your employees have the ability to do a certain task, remember that almost any task is learnable. If you train someone to do a task, you’ll get a large return on your time investment as that person repeats that task many times.
Communicate on an Appropriate Schedule
Once you’ve delegated tasks, consistently communicate with your staff to track their progress. Explain that this doesn’t mean you distrust them. In many areas of life, we track progress—even when we’re downloading software! So, you’re just being responsible. And communication is also an opportunity for them to ask for additional resources, and to get feedback that’ll make them feel confident they’re on the right track.
Organizations can’t really live without delegation. Though it can be difficult, it warrants study and practice to get better at it. And a leader like you definitely has the ability to get better at it—even world class at it—by continually experimenting within the proven principles of delegation.
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