Delegation requires time management, thereby increasing your effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. When you are strong in time management, you are exercising conscious control of making choices about what you do, when you do it and how well you do it. But even if you excel in time management, what prevents you from taking the next step and delegating work to others?
When you delegate, you are entrusting another person, usually one less senior than yourself. Delegating requires trust and faith in the other person. There are three actions included in the act of delegating:
• Making decisions
• Giving authority to someone else
• Turning over authority
Benefits Of Delegation
Delegating has several benefits that need to be considered:
• It gives you more time to focus on higher-level tasks
• It gives you more time for things that matter to you
• It gives others opportunities to develop new skills
• It allows others to develop themselves and grow
• It allows you to develop trust
• It introduces you to new ways of doing tasks
Even though there are several advantages to delegating, the main reason it does not happen is because delegating requires setting up a system and structure, which takes effort to implement. Very few individuals that I coach have set up a system to delegate their work, which often prevents them from moving up in the organization.
What's Holding Us Back?
The common excuses I hear time and again for not delegating are, “It’s easier and quicker if I do it myself” and “No one else can do it as well as I can.” These justifications are a ruse. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Are you staying busy doing tasks that another person could or should do?”
An additional trap you can fall into is doing menial tasks that take up your time, yet do not require applying yourself. This puts you in the realm of cognitive ease, also known as busy work. These tasks can be assigned and may, for the person you can delegate that work to, be a challenge until they have developed the skill and expertise. This is a common diversion from work that requires your cognitive strain and can verge on the heels of procrastination. If you fall into this category, your time management may not be executed effectively.
Delegation and development go hand in hand. Questions to consider when you delegate are:
• Do you know and can you rely on the skills and abilities of those you delegate to?
• Are the performance standards and expectations clear and obvious?
• Are there rules/guidelines to be followed to entrust someone with a task or responsibility?
• Is there too much authority given or not enough for the task to be sufficiently completed?
Guidelines For Delegating
1. When building an atmosphere to delegate, there need to be clear objectives for the person taking on the additional responsibility.
2. You need to establish an understanding of the task assigned.
3. Be clear on the objectives and outcomes.
4. Ask for any concerns they may have and their suggestions and ideas.
5. Have an understanding of the goal.
6. Clarify the what, when and why.
7. Establish the major do's and don'ts.
8. Be clear about the amount of time and/or money to spend.
9. Afterward, review and assess the outcome. This process builds a consensus and trust.
Understanding The Process
Once the procedure and objectives have been discussed, have the person reflect back on what you are trying to accomplish and what they understand to be the key goals or deliverables. And make sure to check on their progress.
Focused updates enhance the quality of work and the likelihood of the deadline being met. If the person you are delegating to is learning a new task, they are in cognitive strain, which means the task will take more time. Your expectations need to be realistic and not measured by how quickly you can accomplish the task. Be sensitive to the learning curve timeframe.
One of the goals of effective delegation is to help someone develop new skills. During this process, they need to be able to tackle unseen problems on their own before coming to you. Once they have explored all their resources and still cannot solve the issues, it is time for you to step in. Let them know it is okay to make a mistake, as a mistake is a teachable moment and we usually learn more from making a mistake than from arriving at the correct answer.
Earlier, I mentioned the need to review and assess the process and outcome. Debriefing is important. You gain a greater understanding of the other person's thought process, how they arrived at and made decisions, and how they approach problem-solving. Each of these areas is crucial to building trust so that you can feel comfortable in delegating more.
What are the next steps? Set up a system beginning with what work you can and should be delegating. This requires understanding and assessing the task. Write out specific and clear objectives. Think about who can learn to undertake this task and address their concerns. Make sure they are clear about the goal. Stay involved, and when the task is completed, review the process.
The more you develop others, the more you are able to move up, taking on more challenges and opportunities in the organization to develop yourself.