How to Effectively Delegate
During a Large Project
“Delegate and let go.” Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group.
Delegation can be defined as the transfer of responsibility of specific tasks from one person to another. If you are a team leader or someone in a position of authority, learning how to effectively delegate is going to be a major asset when trying to maximize productivity and keep processes running smoothly. Unfortunately, many leaders and managers don’t know how to effectively delegate and that’s affecting their bottom line.
If you are feeling like you might be lacking in regards to efficient delegation, you are not alone. 53% of companies are concerned about the time-management skills of their employees while almost 50% of employees question the delegation skills of their managers.
To understand how to effectively delegate, we reached out to executives in order to see how it’s done.
Decide What to Delegate
Not every project is going to need delegation. In fact, some are just too small or are singular to your specific skills. For instance, no one else on your team is going to be able to handle a personnel change or employee performance reviews. A good manager knows how to do an assessment of what needs to be done and then determines which aspects can be handled by others.
“Hiring the right people is where real delegation begins. You know each person’s strengths and weaknesses better than most, use this knowledge to transfer responsibility to the right team member. Look at your day-to-day life. Is there something that you are struggling with but know that someone else on your team would excel at? Are they asking for a chance to prove themselves or advance their careers by adding a skill to their repertoire? If this is a teachable moment, hop on the opportunity to delegate. It will show people that you trust them while having the benefit of freeing you up to focus on more pressing matters.” – Jared Hines, Head of Operations at Acre Gold.
Choose the Right Person
Building on that, you have to pick the right person to take on the responsibility of the task that needs assigning. Employees have goals for themselves. If you have something that will give a management-focused employee a chance to show their ability to lead, they should be a dead ringer for that task. Understand employee preferences and remember that employees will perform better when assigned a task they are actually interested in.
“I wouldn’t assign a task that is going to require a lot of collaboration to an employee who prefers working alone. That is just going to add unneeded stress to their plate and jeopardize things getting done in an effective manner. I prefer to take my list of tasks directly to my employees instead of playing a guessing game… Here is what needs to be done, does anyone want to take points on X, Y, or Z? It shows I trust them and want to engage them fully in the process.” – Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO at Diathrive.
Make Reasons Clear
You should make sure that you explain to the people you chose why exactly you chose them for the task if you decide to assign it to them specifically.
“I want each employee to know why I chose them to do something so it doesn’t seem random because it isn’t. Then, the employee can say ‘I was chosen to do this because my boss trusts me to get it done,’ and not, ‘They are making me do this because they don’t want to.’ I want them to see that I chose them because I see this as an opportunity for growth.” – Jason Sherman, Founder at TapRm.
When you assign a task to one of your employees, make sure that the desired outcomes are clearly defined. Being vague can lead to your employee feeling like George Costanza trying to piece together what Wilhelm meant by the word “downtown”. Let the employee know what they need to complete and when you are expecting it turned in.
“Employees need clarity when being assigned an objective. Even if it seems obvious to you, you should be telling them, ‘Here is what we are doing, this is what we are looking to accomplish, I want you to do X to get it finished.’ Let them know the metrics they will be measured against so they can then go and exceed them like you know they will.” – Kevin Miller, Founder of KevinMiller.com.
Provide the Proper Resources
There isn’t always going to be a person on your team that is perfectly equipped to take on the assigned task. When that’s the case, it falls on you as the manager to provide them with the tools and training necessary to get it done. This is still delegation even if it requires a little more on your end. Most skills are easy enough to learn and the prospect of learning something new is potentially tantalizing to the employee in question as it makes them more of an asset to the team.
This might mean the first few times you assign a task they will require a bit more time on your end for training, but it is an investment if it is going to save you time in the long run.
“If the employee needs a little help getting started, it is better to spend some time training them so that they feel comfortable. Show them how you normally do it, then do it with them, then set them off on their own to do it while keeping your door open to any questions.” – Ryan Rockefeller, Co-founder and CEO of Cleared.
Have Open Communication
One of the worst things you can do when delegating is assigning a task and then go on the lam leaving your employees to do a bunch of guesswork. Yes, your directions were clear, but questions are always going to pop up.
“Be ready to field questions and to check in with the employee as they get to work. Some people don’t want to ask questions, so it is on you to communicate with them and ask if they have any questions on the assignment. Set up regular check-ins and provide feedback as they work through the tasks.” – Chris Vaughn, CEO at Emjay.
When you delegate, you have to be ready to accept the fact that failure might happen. This can be difficult to do when you are expecting everything to run smoothly, but it can and will happen as you embrace delegation. Be open and ready to deal with failure if and when it happens.
“I’m a perfectionist so it is exceedingly hard for me to delegate projects. I have to constantly remind myself that there is more than one way to get things done and that experimentation that comes from letting new people do a task is also what leads to innovation.” – Michel Mosse, Co-Founder and Head of Revenue of Hoist.
You are the expert, that’s why you’re the manager, right? It might seem like you could take care of the assigned task in half the time as the employees you assigned it to, but you need to be patient.
“Try to remember the first time you did [the task]. It probably took a long time while you figured out how your manager wanted it done. Have some patience and empathy with your employees who are just starting out. They will get better and more efficient over time.” – Jeremy Gardner, CEO at MadeMan.
Feedback is a crucial part of the delegation process. Don’t be the manager that assigns something and then blames the employee when it doesn’t go the way you wanted. Make sure you review the work that was completed and give concise and thoughtful feedback.
“Don’t be afraid of dishing out constructive criticism. Use a compliment sandwich to soften the aspects you wish had turned out better and remember to highlight what was done well to empower them to take on more tasks in the future. It goes both ways, too. Ask them if there was anything you could have done to make the process smoother.” – Justin Chan, Growth Manager at JuneShine.
Say Thank You
Employees want to be appreciated for the work they have done. Show genuine appreciation when they finish the project.
“Thanking employees and providing validation for a job well done will do wonders for loyalty and validation. Not to mention, it is the right thing to do. The more you thank them and show that they are appreciated for their contributions, the more they will want to help out on future projects.” – Cody Candee, Founder and CEO at Bounce.
Delegation is a challenge, but the better you get at it, the more effective you will be as a leader. It’s like business leader Asad Meah says, “Delegation leads to elevation.”