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Master task delegation in 8 simple steps

Posted by Shivali Anand

November 2, 2021    |     5-minute read (911 words)

Delegation is a skill that takes practice to master. By definition, delegation comprises assigning the appropriate tasks to the right individual at the proper time, along with sharing the resources and ceding the authority required to complete those tasks. 

The benefits of delegation include boosting efficiency, motivating employees and fostering their development, self-development and even succession planning. Perhaps the most immediate upside of delegation is it allows busy entrepreneurs to make better use of their time and skills to focus on big-picture responsibilities.

When done correctly, delegation is a win-win situation for everyone. But just because you want to ease your burden doesn't mean you can delegate any task you are impatient to get off your plate.

For example, only you, the business owner, can make major strategic decisions, such as whether to seek outside investment. So, before you leverage delegation, assess your role to identify which of your duties could be distributed to someone else and to what extent. Then consider these eight steps to delegate tasks appropriately.

Step 1 – Choose the right person for the job

Everyone in the workplace tends to have a go-to person on whom they can rely to get work done quickly and correctly. But approaching that person every time you want to delegate a task is not a smart idea. Before you choose a candidate, consider why you are considering this particular individual for the task. Do they possess the necessary skills or training to perform the job? Are they dependable? Is there enough time for them to do the task? In what ways will this challenge help them? What are you expecting to achieve from it?

Choosing the proper individual necessitates a thorough examination of their abilities and willingness to accept responsibility. Many employees feel empowered when they are selected for a project. Lukewarm enthusiasm could signal your pick doesn’t have the skills to do the job, or possibly a broader issue with their workload or desired career path.

Step 2 – Define the role and responsibilities clearly

Begin with the end in mind and clearly describe the intended outcomes. If your delegate is unsure of what you want them to do, they may underperform rather than risk making mistakes. Define the task's projected completion dates, as well as any additional needs, such as tools or other people's participation.

Step 3 – Assign work and talk about timelines

After you've mapped out expectations, educate the delegate. Set explicit communication expectations, including frequency, content and establish a budget and schedule.

If needed, have an open discussion on a realistic job completion date, including milestones for specific phases. Also, make sure that both sides are on the same page about the timelines. To avoid any misunderstandings, it's best to document this in writing. Because this new obligation will affect their current workload, the conversation might also include how much time per day or week is appropriate to devote to the task.

Remember to spell out the different levels of power, responsibility and accountability. This will assist the person you’re delegating to an understanding as to why they should come to you for approval and feedback, and when. These levels of interaction will vary depending on the work and the individual.

When explaining the details of a task, make it evident to them that they are ultimately accountable for obtaining the intended outcome. You may give them ideas on how to get started, as well as proper training, but you're counting on them to get there.

Step 4 – Gather the required materials

To execute a new work, the assignee will almost certainly want assistance. Ensure they have the materials they need and that you're there to answer questions. New equipment, people, locations, materials, premises, money or digital resources such apps or software might be considered as resources.

Also, let them know how they may contact you if they have an issue.

Step 5 – Demonstrate your confidence in their abilities

It's in people's nature to live up to — or down to — the standards set for them. As a result, make it apparent to your delegate that you trust them and are confident in their ability to perform the task. 

Motivate your assignee by:

  • Using positive language 
  • Not micromanaging
  • Allowing them room to function
Step 6 Keep an eye on progress

A task cannot be simply delegated and then forgotten about. Set up a method for obtaining periodic reports from your delegate to hold them accountable. Be available to ensure that everything goes according to plan and answer any questions the delegate may have, but not so close that you are making all of the decisions and doing all of the work.

Step 7 Acknowledge others

Give credit to people when it is due once the assignment is finished. When feasible, publicly congratulate the delegate and acknowledge a job well done. Keep a close watch on the outcomes and learn from your mistakes. If required, revise your plan.

Step 8 Maintain accountability for results

You are responsible for every outcome as a manager. You share part of the blame if you believe your delegate is not performing as intended. Don't take back tasks that you've allocated. This instills a negative perspective among staff, leading them to believe that your delegates are ultimately self-serving. Instead, consider ways to improve the results.

Never forget that, as the manager, you are ultimately responsible for all results. Establish a feedback loop in which you are informed on the status of all efforts.

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