Many people experience burnout trying to “do it all.” That’s why we have identified the barriers holding you back from effective delegating. Now you can begin to diminish them by practicing.
9 tips for effective delegating
When practicing the art of delegating, you will invoke a number of your strengths and competencies. Here are 9 tips to help you leverage these skills and effectively delegate authority.
1. Ensure you are aligned
When delegating tasks, it is important to be clear and lean on your communication skills. Be sure to clarify roles, expectations, and timelines.
2. Communicate the overall objective
Tying individual tasks to larger organizational goals strengthens team members’ sense of purpose and motivation. This will help you get the desired outcome within a designated timeline. And without this guidance, it can be challenging for individuals to understand why they’re working on a specific project or task.
3. Empower each individual
We define empowerment as authority or power being transferred to someone to do something. Every time you delegate is an opportunity to start empowering others. And when you designate each task, you can further empower each individual by asking for their feedback and expertise along the way.
4. Be cognizant of bandwidth
Before adding another task to someone’s plate or asking them to drastically shift priorities, consider their bandwidth or talk to their manager. If they are already overwhelmed, they may not be the right individual to delegate to. Or they may need additional time or help to reprioritize their tasks. Also, be sure to leave enough time for the work to be done and for you to review it.
5. Establish feedback loops upfront
By outlining the milestones for check-in as you delegate the task, you further clarify your expectations upfront. This also provides extra structure without micromanaging the task. Once these posts are in place, however, give your team space to work between each one. If you’re doing 10%, 50%, and 90% check-ins, for instance, resist the urge to ping them and add extra check-ins along the way unless your team requests it.
6. Lean into your coaching skills
You can develop your peer and leadership coaching skills through delegation. You use conversations to encourage high performance, guide your team, and enable their career growth.
7. Understand the nuances of relationship building
The delegation process inherently involves relationships with others. Through the process of delegation, you collaborate, experience mutuality, and build good work relationships. By recognizing the need for leadership skills such as empathy, trust, and patience, you can build stronger working relationships before, during, and after each delegation process.
8. Share the end result at the beginning
If you already know how you want the deliverable to be formatted and the goal it is achieving, let your delegate know before they begin. Even high-performing individuals need clarity. Otherwise, you may not get the desired results and risk diffusing your team’s confidence in the process.
9. Know who you are delegating to
This might seem obvious, but understanding your team’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and communication styles can help when delegating. You may have an analyst with excellent data organizational skills and another who excels at data visualization. Given these strengths, you would likely delegate different tasks to each individual.
How to overcome common challenges of delegating
If you don’t often do it, delegating can feel like a struggle.
That’s because delegating is hard work for a variety of reasons. Some people get overwhelmed and can’t truly give up the task.
They want to do everything on their own to ensure it meets their standard.
However, businesses can’t scale this way, and it isn’t realistic to think you can do everything. Most would agree with that statement, so why is it hard to delegate?
There are plenty of obstacles that can make delegating a challenging process. These include errors in the final product, overwhelming the employee, and struggling with the time investment.
Some other factors contribute to delegation failings as well. Harvard Business Review attributes a lack of critical thinking, initiative, quality, and speed to the four main reasons delegation could fail.
Let’s look at some of the main challenges you may have to overcome when delegating.
If the task doesn’t get done correctly
The most frustrating experience about delegation is when you do everything right, but the project you delegate doesn’t meet the standard you need.
This is one of the biggest fears associated with delegating.
To counteract this challenge, take the time to give proper, thorough instructions. Provide your employee with time to ask questions and answer thoroughly.
Give plenty of examples and tips that the employee can use while they are completing the task.
Be sure not to rush through this step.
Providing thorough instructions is critical to ensure that the foundation for a successful project is set in place, and it reduces the risk that the task is not done correctly.
The employee gets overwhelmed
Not everyone knows what they’re signing up for when they accept a new task.
It is essential to prepare the employee you’re delegating to before beginning the task. This will help them adjust their expectations and plan accordingly to avoid getting overwhelmed.
Check-in periodically and ask if the employee needs any additional help. This is especially true if this is the first time they’re working on this kind of project. This will help counteract the threat of overwhelming them.
By regularly following up, you can instill confidence in them to complete the task to your specifications.
It takes too long to delegate
Sometimes, it might feel better to tackle specific tasks by yourself.
In those instances, you should take a step back and look at the big picture. Weigh the time it would take you to do it, and the time it would take you to explain the instructions to an employee.
As mentioned above, the instructional component of delegating is critical. You need to be thorough and take the time to explain what you’re seeking.
However, giving clear instructions can be time-consuming, especially if you need to educate or teach someone how to do something.
That’s why it’s critical to weigh the time costs associated with the delegation before going for it.
Final thoughts on delegating authority
You will probably have setbacks in delegating. At these times, keep in mind the higher-level purpose behind your commitment to delegating tasks.
Remind yourself what career goals you are accomplishing by knowing how to delegate more and letting go of your past work. Your skills are better used as a leader than as an individual contributor.
You can also seek feedback from team members, managers, and coworkers on improving your delegation skills. They may be able to see opportunities for you to be more effective with your delegation.
Finally, try to avoid the cognitive trap of believing it will take less time to do the work yourself. Measure the time saved through delegation in the long term, not the short term.