Learn how to delegate effectively

What’s Keeping You Busy?

Next in our series entitled Being an Effective Manager is the topic of delegation.

Another key trait of a successful manager is the ability to delegate. Being able to delegate properly will give you the opportunity to grow in the areas that matter most. Why, then, are so many managers not delegating with confidence and ease?

The answer isn’t difficult to figure out – initially, delegating requires you to roll up your sleeves and put forth more initial effort. To be able to successfully delegate tasks, you’ll need to do some legwork first.

Evaluate what is keeping you busy

The first step in learning how to successfully delegate is to determine how you’re spending your time. There is a limit to how much you can accomplish in a given day, no matter how diligently you work.

Simply put, there are only so many tasks that you’re going to be able to tackle each day. It’s up to you to figure out which ones represent the best use of your precious time.

Consider this example: Jim operates a successful, well-respected landscaping company. He already has a website that helps attract new business, but now he’s decided to add a blog.

He envisions his blog as being a platform where he can provide customers useful information about a variety of gardening topics. Jim even has a list of potential topics based on feedback he’s received over the years from his loyal customers.

Here’s where the concept of delegation comes in. Can Jim successfully author blog posts that will appeal to his audience? Of course he can. But – is it the best use of his time?

Probably not. Because Jim is experienced in his industry, it makes more sense for him to use his skills and expertise to continue to develop his business. By delegating the task of writing blog posts to someone else, he can focus on larger goals.

In the long term, as Jim works with someone to write blog posts, two things happen:

  1. Jim has the chance to help someone develop or increase her skill set.
  2. This translates into a win-win situation, because as time goes on, Jim can be confident that he can successfully delegate tasks to a writer who understands his goals and how he wants to communicate his message to customers.

Evaluate what is keeping your employees busy

At this point, you should know whether or not you’re making the best use of your time – now find out if your employees are making the best use of their time. The answer might surprise you.

Know your employees – make sure you understand what their current skills and abilities are – and if they have the necessary experience to help you with your tasks.

As you consider who you want to delegate a task to, remember to ask:

  • What experience does this person already possess that will be an asset?
  • What additional experience is necessary for this person to successfully accomplish the task?
  • If additional experience is necessary, do you have the time and ability to provide whatever extra training is required?
  • What about the person’s interests, goals, and overall working style? Are they a smart match for your task?
  • Does this person seem like the best choice for the task – or is there someone else worth considering?
  • All things considered, does the person have the appropriate amount of time to devote to the task so that it is accomplished successfully?

Be open-minded and remember that delegation isn’t a single event but a process that will help you and your employees grow. Do your research, be honest with yourself and about your expectations, and explore the possibilities that will open to you as you delegate tasks to maximize the use of your time.

Our next post will take you past the topic of basic delegation into accountability – and how to address concerns as they arise, like missed deadlines, sub-par performance, and other common shortcomings that can have a huge impact on your overall success.