No matter how hard you might try, getting great work done is never truly a solo task, and delegation skills can be the key to your success. The earlier you learn effective delegation skills in your management career, the more it will shape you into being an engaging manager. In the recent webinar Effective Delegation Strategies, instructor Betsy Hagan shared how you can recognize effective delegation techniques to enhance the career paths of those you manage.
What is Delegation?
Delegation is the process of assigning tasks or projects to subordinates while clearly dictating expected outcomes and timeframe for completion. It gives you the time and ability to focus on higher-level tasks while giving others the ability to learn and develop new skills. When you can show those who report to you that you care about their development, trust will form, and communication will improve. Delegation is proven to boost efficiency, productivity, and time management skills.
Bad delegators don’t necessarily have bad intentions, but they often have bad habits. Betsy said they typically fall into these four categories:
1. The Drive-By Delegator – We all know the type who is constantly saying things like, “hey can you do me a favor” or “do this for me”. They stop by your desk and drop things off. This is not bad in small amounts but over time it’s a problem. This is the most common delegation problem.
2. The Dribbling Delegator – These colleagues give out tasks randomly, a little here or there with no methodology or idea behind it. They say things like “hey, can you go to this meeting for me?” with no explanation as to why. They typically distribute low-value tasks.
3. The Mumbling Delegator – When someone delegates something to you because it “has to get done” but they cannot tell you the outcomes they want or need, they are a mumbling delegator. No one has all the information, and the recipient is unclear on what they’re doing. This form of delegation is not thought through as there are no answers and things are often pushed off to a later date.
4. The Chicken Little Delegator – This delegation always comes with the context of an urgent problem that has to get fixed immediately. This, of course, is another bad habit. When leaders don’t see problems that aren’t being addressed at the root cause, or they just put band-aids on problems or ignoring them until they are systemic problems. This is annoying to the team and erodes their trust in their leaders.
Great delegators, on the other hand, understand the value of delegation and get everyone on their team aligned. They identify the appropriate delegation targets and exhibit behaviors that build trust. They do not let ego get in the way, which is often the biggest challenge. For many, the career jump from being a problem solver to being the coach of problem solvers is a big transition.
When to Start Delegating
As a professional, you must do what you can to manage and maximize your bandwidth as you grow in your career. When things are no longer a core part of your job description, it’s time to delegate those tasks to others on your team. Other possible targets for delegation include:
– When there’s more than one way to complete the tasks
– The task is not mission-critical
– The task is mission-critical but there’s value in cross-training others
– When it’s a skill an employee should learn and can be responsible for getting it done
– When there’s time to train someone on the work
Delegate for Leverage and Learning
Delegating as a manager means opportunities to growing your team members, but that does not give you permission to always delegate to the same person. Delegation is a way to leverage your own impact and contributions to the team while developing others. A few questions to ask yourself before you delegate a new task might include:
– Who thinks like me?
– Who has my level of judgement?
– Who has demonstrated to me that they can perform and complete work well?
– Who is ready for a challenge?
– Who needs a “stretch” experience to advance their career?
– Where can I shore up support for succession or contingency resource plans?
Delegation can give you the time and ability to focus on higher-level tasks while giving your team members the chance to learn and develop new skills. For more advice on how to avoid micromanaging, introduce new delegated tasks to your team, and set stretch goals, watch the full webinar. If you’re ready to take your management skills to the next level, join us for Manager Boot Camp (Online). This interactive program will help you counsel others on career goals and successfully guide them through professional and organizational change.