Delegation is not just about freeing yourself from the daily grind. A business cannot grow if it relies on your say each and every day. Development happens through experience and through trust. By gradually delegating work to your employees more and more, you build confidence in their growing abilities and trust in their competency. Eventually, you will be head of a team that needs next to no instruction in pushing the company forward. Then, you will be left free to look towards the next big project.
Properly delegating work to employees is not a simple case of handing off jobs to your staff. You need to be measured and considered in how you arrange tasks and responsibilities. Read on for our guide to getting work delegation right.
Step 1 – Decide what must be delegatedA tricky task for any managers delegating work to employees for the first time. You can easily fall into the trap of believing nobody else is up to the task. It is important to be objective in cutting down your workload. Others can always learn new skills but you will never find extra time to do new projects.
Really think about the list of tasks you are expecting yourself to do. Consider how much time they are taking up and whether this time could be spent on anything more productive to the business. Unless a task relates to driving your company onto bigger and better things, it is probably better off in the hands of your staff. Your long term aim should be to eventually pass all operational tasks to your employees. Don’t let fear or pride keep you from reaching this goal.
Step 2 – Match the right person to the right taskOnce you have identified those jobs that are keeping you from more important things, you can look at the best choice to take on those responsibilities. Never just dump work on someone. Take time to ensure you are delegating work to employees that can handle it and that have shown aspirations towards that field of work. Don’t worry if your team have no experience with your tasks. An employee that has shown independence and drive may not have the knowledge right away, but you can rely on their ability to pick up and perfect the procedures and objectives. It may take time and training, but you will benefit so much more from that extra time for new pursuits.
You also need to consider their other workloads. Can your chosen employee take on this extra work? Will you need to reshuffle other responsibilities by choosing a certain person? It’s no good easing your strain just to make it worse for others. Make sure you can delegate without overloading the team working for you.
Small teams and lone traders may need to consider taking on new people. Again, this will cost you time and money but can lead to much better returns from your ability to push your business ahead.
Step 3 – Make responsibilities clear to everyoneWhen delegating work to employees, you will typically be asking someone to take on something new. However eager this employee may be, they will struggle without proper guidance at the start. Make sure that your employee is absolutely clear on all aspects of the task you have asked of them.
Tell them precisely what is involved in this work. This doesn’t mean just running them through the process. Let them know the standards you expect from the work and the objectives you hope to meet in completing the task. Explain time restrictions and the resources they are likely to require. They should walk away knowing exactly what you are looking for and how to set about doing that.
Step 4 – Offer supervision but know when to step awayClearly, at the start, your employee is going to need input on the quality of the task. Ensure them that you will keep an eye on how they get on and that you will support them if they have difficulties. You can even introduce them to the task a bit at a time so they can build up an idea of expectations and work practice. Gradually letting them do the work on their own lets them build up their confidence whilst knowing you are there to pick up the pieces if things don’t go to plan.
At the same time, you need to make sure that you step away from the task when the time is right. If you carry on holding their hand or looking over their shoulder once they have the hang of things, you might cause more problems than you solve. Once they are confident enough to take on the work independently, let them. Arrange for periodical updates to discuss and analyse performance and leave your employee to it.
Step 5 – Provide regular feedbackPart of delegation is allowing staff to grow and develop. To ensure this happens to the benefit of everyone, you need to let them know how they are performing. If errors are happening, talk with your employee. Make sure they know that things aren’t up to scratch and how they can improve. This should be supportive rather than critical. Your employee is learning, so help them see and solve the problems themselves. They are less likely to grasp the task if you simply tell them what to change without explanation.
Just as importantly, make sure you praise employees for good work. Getting that feedback is not just great encouragement. You ensure that the employee can see their own positive skills and abilities and you show that their efforts are appreciated and are useful to the company as a whole. Building esteem and confidence in your team will lead them to steady improvement and growth as your business continues.
After delegating work to employees, your priority should be to focus on your business strategy. Make the most of your new found time to ensure your business can get onto those next steps and reflects the growing skills of your staff.