When managers are overwhelmed, one of the first things they lose their grip on is delegation – yet that’s precisely why they need to keep delegating, and doing more of it.
Whether you’ve been delegating for ages and think you’ve mastered it but would like a refresher, or you’re new to managing others and want some prompts to get you started, these 10 tips are offered to help.
1. Delegate first
The earlier in the process, and the earlier in the day, so much the better. Don’t do your stuff first then delegate, otherwise the project could fall behind and you won’t be giving people enough time to get a good job done.
2. Clarify expectations
Remember it’s the output that counts, not necessarily how someone goes about it. If you start the conversation with, “Well, here’s how I’ve always done XYZ…”, you’re focused on the ‘how’ instead of the ‘what’. Stick to what’s needed and why. Be clear about the standards and timing
3. Provide examples
What does good look like? This is when your grab bag of great examples (which of course you’ve been building up) will come in really handy. Examples show people what’s needed better than any reams of text or spoken words ever can.
4. Check the timing
Yes of course you’ll give the deadline (the real one, we’re dealing with grown-ups here). If you’re smart you’ll also discuss how long the task should take. There are two reasons for this: someone may gold-plate the task and take far longer over it than the job is worth; secondly, even though you need to bear in mind that learners take longer, it’s essential to give an idea of duration for people to aim at.
5. Use checklists
No, you’re not so cool you can work without them. Checklists save lives in operating theatres and aircraft cockpits, because they allow the whole team to share responsibility and empower more junior members to speak up at key stages. All routine tasks can have checklists, and if there isn’t one for what you’re delegating, include creating one as part of the task.
6. Be available when you say you will
Agree upfront when you’ll be available for Q&A, coaching and support. That way you both know when you’ll be checking-in and you won’t be hit with constant stream-of-consciousness questions.
7. Wrap up and give feedback
When the job’s completed, take a few minutes to discuss what went well, what didn’t go so well and what the person learned that they will apply next time. Note: ‘discuss’ means you both get to talk 😉 Take a little time to check out other posts here for more tips on giving feedback.
8. Wrap up and get feedback
It’s a two-way street: how can you delegate and manage more effectively next time? Listen well to what your colleague has to say and seek clarification so you know what to do more/less of next time.
9. Ask for suggestions
How can the task be improved? I’ll never forget a team member taking a boring routine report and turning it into a thing of beauty. It got him noticed, in a good way. Ask people how both the output and the process can be improved.
10. Insist on accountability
If you’re applying the suggestions above, don’t accept excuses if the job isn’t done on time or to standard. If you see someone struggling, ask them what they need to get back on track.