Delegating tasks effectively can take time for new managers to learn. However, it is an essential skill if you want to ensure that you and your team are able to work efficiently and at capacity.
Here are six steps to ensure you delegate effectively.
1) Determine what needs to be delegated
This may sound simple but one of the most crucial steps is to think carefully about which specific tasks you need to delegate and what you need or want to do yourself. You must be prepared to hand over tasks and trust your team but you should also be careful to share responsibility for the right tasks. Be clear on your team’s job descriptions and the expectations you have for everyone’s workloads. Then decide on a list of tasks, either routine or ad hoc, are best in the hands of you or another employee.
2) Decide who to give the task to
Now you have a list of the tasks you want to delegate, you should start deciding who to give which task to. This may be simple if you have one team member, but it could be complex if you have a larger group of people relying on your guidance. Consider each person’s existing work, skill set, aptitude and speed when choosing who should take on these additional tasks.
3) Decide on a deadline
With the individual and the task in mind, it’s time to come up with a deadline to provide your team member. This will be a set date and time when the work is due. Think about how long is reasonable for it to take someone to do this task, the other work pressures on the individual’s to-do list and some extra room in case they take longer than expected.
Further, keep in mind your own deadlines and timeframes imposed by clients and managers and when you will need each piece of work to allow you to complete your own tasks. Ensure you build in some extra time to review their work, ask for changes and to cover any delays.
4) Communicate the task
In order to have your task completed successfully, you need to communicate exactly what it is you need to the person or team involved. This can take a bit of time but is well worth it to ensure you are clear on what the deliverable is.
To communicate effectively you should:
- Write down a description of the task.
- Decide on an email, in-person or video meeting, phone call or a combination of these approaches to explain the task. Book a meeting as required.
- Outline the task in the meeting or email to the team member.
- Answer any questions they may have about the task.
- Explain the deadline and ask if there would be any problem with the timeline.
- Check-in for any overall issues that the individual foresees with the request.
Ensure the team member is aware of what is expected of them, the timeframe and what to do if they are struggling with the request. You want to solve any problems as early as possible. When it is agreed, put the deadline in your calendar and – if the request was verbal – consider sending an email with the task and what was agreed.
5) Follow up
Now the task is delegated, put a placeholder in your calendar to follow up with your staff member ahead of the deadline. Before the task is due, you should ask them how the work is coming along. If there are any issues, these can then be tackled before it becomes a big problem.
If your staff member works in the office, you can check in regularly and informally about the progress of the work. If virtually, you may want to consider booking in a formal check-in time.
Lastly, when the work is submitted, undertake a review of what has been provided. This step should involve some feedback to your staff member or team, either with constructive criticism or confirmation you are happy with the work. You should also take this time to review your own delegation process.
Ask yourself what worked and didn’t work and where improvements could be made. Refine the process until you are comfortable that you are delegating effectively.