Learning How to Delegate

Joe Weinlick
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Delegation can be a difficult task for management professionals who are deeply invested in the success of their businesses. It requires a tremendous amount of trust, particularly when it comes to mission-critical tasks. When you learn to delegate work, however, you can build a strong team, instill confidence and free up your time for high-level tasks.

Identifying Time-Consuming Tasks

Before you start to delegate work, analyze your workload. Look for the tasks that take up the most time. Consider if they contribute to moving the team forward and if it is possible for another team member to take them over. Planning the next team project is something only a manager can do, whereas handling day-to-day client communication can easily be done by an employee. As a manager, your time is best spent on high-level tasks, such as guiding the team, planning future endeavors and managing employee development. Handing off low-level, time-consuming tasks leaves you free to consider the big picture.

Build Employees' Skills

Employee skill development is an important part of a manager's job. As you are learning to delegate work, consider the skill gaps in your team. Consider employees' weak areas and whether any team members have expressed a desire to build a specific skill. Then, delegate work that can help employees further those goals. For some managers, seeing delegation as education helps ease the feeling of imposition. Help the employees succeed by offering advice, explaining the existing process and encouraging them to ask questions.

Understand Your Limitations

No manager is able to handle every task. Make a frank assessment of your strengths and weaknesses as a professional. Identify employees who are strong where you are weak, and hand off some of your responsibilities. If you struggle to complete basic coding, for example, there's no need to waste time updating the company website. Instead, delegate the task to your resident programming genius. In the process, you'll eliminate frustration, free up your schedule and demonstrate confidence in your employees' abilities.

Trust Your Employees

In the end, there is no way to delegate work effectively without trust. When you hand off a key task, you must trust the employee's education, training and experience. More importantly, you must accept the possibility of mistakes. As they take on more responsibilities, employees may slip up. This is part of the learning process. By providing clear instruction, avoiding the temptation to micro-manage and treating employees with patience, you can become a manager who guides and encourages growth.

Learning to delegate work is often a slow and uncomfortable process, particularly for management professionals who love to be in control. By using delegation to enhance employees' strengths and free up your own time, you can build a powerful, well-rounded team.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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