Delegating is one of those things that most of us know is important, we’re confident we know how it works by now, and many of us are already doing it regularly. But studies show we’re often not doing it well; 85% of managers say they should delegate more, but guilt, habit, or lack of trust are holding them back.
Delegation is a crucial business practice, though, and freeing up your schedule is not the only reason. For one thing, studies show that CEOs who are good delegators generate more revenue and create more jobs than those who struggle with delegation. It’s also important to develop your employees to demonstrate trust, help them improve their skills, and identify future leaders.
If you’re one of those people who knows they should delegate more or better (I’m right there with you) here are some strategies that might help.
You don’t have to go from zero to perfect delegator overnight. Gradually work your way up; begin with some of your smaller tasks and as your direct reports get the hang of those, add more tasks and responsibilities. If at first you’re only giving away the tasks you don’t feel like doing, that’s okay – you have to start somewhere, and if you don’t like doing them chances are they don’t play to your strengths anyway.
Think through your to-do list. Which of the tasks play to your strengths and which don’t? Those things that you’re capable of doing but that require skills you’re not as strong in are good candidates for delegating!
When you’ve chosen some responsibilities to delegate, look at your team. Who has the strengths and skills best suited to each task? Have a staff member who’s aces at organizing? Administrative duties and creating processes might be a good fit for them. Someone who’s great at communication might be perfect for returning phone calls or sending emails. And so on!
“It’ll just be faster if I do it myself.” “I don’t even have the time to figure out what to delegate.” You’re not the only one who’s thought that way! You’re probably right on the first one, but taking the time to teach your team member how to do it is an investment; once they practice and learn how to do the task efficiently, you’ll get more room in your schedule. Same thing with figuring out what to delegate. Spend some time doing that at the start and you’ll end up saving time in the long run.
Let me just start off by saying I’m not asking you to micromanage! But don’t be afraid to check in from time to time and make sure the task is moving along. Think more along the lines of “I want to make sure I’m staying updated on [the task]; how’s it going? Do you have any questions I can answer?” than “What’s going on with [the task]? Why isn’t it done? The deadline is next week and I haven’t heard from you!”
Once the task is done, make sure you let your team member know how they did. If they did a great job, make sure you give them some recognition! If there’s something they could do better, give them some constructive feedback instead of just fixing it yourself; remember that part of the goal here is to help them develop their skills!
You should also ask them to share their feedback with you. Invite them to give you their thoughts on how the process went. Did you give enough information? Were they the right person to assign that task? How can you help them succeed?
If you want more in-depth information on effective delegation, Purple Ink has a great training on the topic! And if you’d love to delegate some tasks but don’t have anyone to delegate to, we can help with that too – contact us to learn more about how we can help you hire the right person or take some tasks off your hands ourselves.