Delegating: What Is It and How Can You Delegate Effectively?

Delegating: What Is It and How Can You Delegate Effectively?


You probably don't need to type in "what is delegating" in a search box to get a sense of what it is. You've seen it in practice, for better or worse, throughout your career. For example, "I don't have time to delegate" is one of the top three lies we tell as management. Is that because we're doing delegation all wrong? If delegating is one of the best skills you can apply to boost your business profits and career satisfaction, why is it so hard to do? It seems the higher you move up the ladder, the more challenging it gets. 

A Stanford University survey found that more than a third of CEOs admitted to not being very good at it and needing to improve. 

Remember, your poor delegation skills will overload your schedule and not allow you to do other necessary tasks like prioritising the right ones. If employees don't grow, it's likely because you refuse to delegate or hone those skills appropriately. 

This article explores how we can overcome obstacles to improve our delegating abilities for everyone else's sake and your effectiveness

Delegating is Tough When You Don't Know What You're Working With

Delegating is especially tough when you don't know what you've got. That is, you haven't effectively evaluated your talent. Do you understand your team's strengths and weaknesses? If you are a leader or manager, allocating the best talent fit for the goals and tasks requiring completion is vital to maximising productivity and results. It will also keep you from wasting talent and disengaging them on jobs that do not suit them. 

Trusting Your Talent 

Delegating can also be difficult when you do not trust your talent to handle the responsibilities you place on them. Take some time to do a deep dive as to why you don't trust them.

If there are outstanding issues you haven't addressed, now's the time to do it. Following through can help you address any issues holding you back from finding proper synergy. 

Control Freak Tendencies

Something else to consider as a potential obstacle is your own "control freak" tendencies. Maybe you're such a perfectionist that you don't trust anyone to complete a task as well as you can.

Surprisingly, more than three in four people think being a control freak is positive, according to one survey. When it comes to delegation, however? Not so much! 

As a thought experiment, let's say you're right. You still can't be everywhere at once. Suppose you don't learn to let go of these tendencies. In that case, you'll be taking on too much (also known as potential not prioritising effectively) and not taking the valuable opportunity to develop your team members. So, instead of considering what delegation means, focus on making progress and how to do it more effectively. 

Here are eight ways to consider how to succeed at delegation

1. Goal Setting

As you set out to become a better delegator, define what you need to accomplish with the action you're delegating. Get specific. Make your goals SMART goals.

Take time on the front end to make sure your team understands everything involved: the end goal, action steps, and potential obstacles they will face. They will only have a firm grasp on what you expect by offering them clarity now.

2. Understand your Employee Strengths

Any delegating definition should include something about learning who your employees are hat are their strengths and weaknesses? 

Where have they shown proven results in the past? What issues have they struggled with on past evaluations? Again, figuring this out helps you match the goals and tasks, to the best person.


3. Prioritising Work: Part of delegating like a champ 

Determining what to delegate and what to do yourself is crucial to building a sustainable, scalable business. We know transferring more of your day-to-day tasks to someone else frees you up for more strategic, time-sensitive tasks. 

4. Train Your Employees to Succeed

Provide the necessary training tools, software, hardware, and other resources to address the responsibilities you're seeking to delegate. Not only will that make your employees feel more engaged, but it will also give you some peace of mind about letting go.


5. Banish the Punishment, Empower Your Employees

Another essential factor to establishing delegating meaning is empowerment. Your employees must feel safe in their decision-making. They must know that small mistakes will not result in severe repercussions. Empowered employees feel more confident about the tasks ahead of them. They're also unlikely to trigger your inner micromanager.


6. Facilitating Open Communication and Creating a Feedback Loop

Want to make life easier on you and your team? Facilitate and open up the proper communication channels so they can have access to you when necessary and vice versa. It could be as simple as a text message or as advanced as proprietary software like Slack, Trello, Asana, GoToMeeting, and Zoom. There is no shortage of tools to strengthen the process of delegation.


7. Grant Freedom to Fail


Your management style will have a lot to do with whether delegating will be successful. If you're a tyrant constantly threatening to fire people (even in jest), it can handicap the growth and development of your employees. They can become terrified of making decisions. If they get to that point, you'll end up having to make all the decisions - and you're back to square one. 

Give employees the impression that no screw-up is unfixable. That will act as a mental safety net, helping them learn and grow on the job.


8. Creating a Feedback Loop


Assessment is crucial to what delegating means. But don't think of the assessment as one-sided. Instead, present it to your employees as a conversation. Make it safe for them to give as much feedback as they receive. Give credit when it's due and disguise criticism in the form of identifying future opportunities. 

What Is Delegating Is Only Part of the Journey

By now, you know how to answer what is delegating. You know because you're aware of how to do it effectively. Now it's time to put it into practice by letting go of the factors that could be inhibiting you:

  • Unaware of your employees' strengths and weaknesses

  • Lack of trust in their abilities

  • Controlling tendencies

  • Poor prioritisation - "I have no time; everything is a priority right now." 

Do you need help with delegation or conduction a prioritisation audit together? Contact us today to talk strategy or request growth ideas. 


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