Delegate: To entrust a task or responsibility to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself. Sometimes you’ll feel overloaded, and there’s only so much you can do. One hundred things need doing, and unless you’re superhuman, it’s physically impossible to get everything done.
So what do you do? Well, you do something. Anything that makes you stressed can’t be ignored! You weren’t born to place a heavy burden on yourself all the time. Take action by delegating. The very word ‘delegate’can send a shiver down your spine. But delegating isn’t a bad thing. It can benefit you and your team.
It benefits you by:
- Saving you time
- Relieving stress
- Employees acknowledging your leadership
It benefits your employees by:
- Developing their skills in new areas
- Testing their imagination and how they handle more responsibility
- Retaining your hard workers
These are just a few of the advantages. There is, however, a fine line between delegation being beneficial and detrimental to your relationship with employees. If you don’t delegate properly, you risk employees feeling like you’re overloading them with work. They become stressed, unhappy and feel ill-treated. But doing it correctly actually enhances your employees’ job satisfaction.
There will be a point when you have to delegate with your team because you have new projects, the firm is growing or you need to balance the workload.
Change your mind-set from thinking ‘I have too much do to and need someone to help’ to ‘How can I challenge my employees so they’re happy and feel fullled whilst enabling me to focus on other things?’
WHEN TO DELEGATE
The process should never just be about you. Handing out extra work due to your poor timekeeping will decrease employees’ loyalty to you. But don’t hold a huge weight on your shoulders just because you’re worried about how employees will react (more on how to approach employees later). Have you considered your team’s workload? Are they in the middle of a huge project right now? If so, it’s not the best time to ask them, or maybe they’re not the right person to ask. Their workload will become too much and the task won’t receive the level of care and perfection it needs
HOW TO DELEGATE
To avoid confusion and unhappiness, tell the person who is completing the work why they are. Explain how you came to this decision, including how they will bene%t from it, and why you aren’t taking on the responsibility.
Here are a few points to help:
- Choose the right people for each task. In order for it to develop your employees’ skills, allocate each task to those who will a) Enjoy it, b) Have time to do it, c) Want to develop skills in the area.
- Be patient. Your employees will probably have lots of questions and at points will be confused. It could take time before they know exactly what is expected of them. Not only this, but you shouldn’t approach them one day with a list of things you “need doing by the end of the week”. Allow a reasonable timescale for completion. If that means someone else handling some of the work, then so be it.
- Communication is key.3. Communication is key. Nobody likes to be in the dark. If you think something might change, tell your team. If the deadline needs to be shortened, tell your team.
- Provide clear instructions. Right from the get-go, make it clear to your employees exactly what is expected of them. Could you build a car without instructions? Anyone can do anything if they’re told how.
- Be considerate of their workload.Do you know what your employees’ workloads are like? Rather than dropping a bomb on them unexpectedly one day, listen to how much time they have available. You don’t want the project to be rushed, nor your employees to be stressed. At this stage, you may even choose to reduce their normal activities to prioritize the new work.
- Give credit. And when it’s all over, don’t forget to say “thank you” and “well done”. Taking all the credit for something you didn’t do is a sure way of your employees not helping you out again. If you delegate often, your employees may be thinking towards the end, ‘What am I getting out of this?’ and you need to have an answer.
HOW NOT TO DELEGATE
Only delegating when you feel overwhelmed. This tells employees that you’re unorganized and unwilling to be a team player.
Don’t be a perfectionist. Perfectionists don’t usually delegate electively. You’d be right in wanting something to be completed to a certain quality, but not everyone works the way you work. Don’t be too speci%c in your instructions, or not clear enough. Strike the balance.
Don’t keep extending or changing the task. Have you ever done something and then been told it wasn’t needed? If yes, your time and skills were wasted. Don’t cause confusion by constantly changing what you originally asked for. It’s unfair and stressful. I could have written pages and pages on how to make this process enjoyable for everyone, but these are the main points. If you don’t make delegation a negative process, it won’t be