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A guide to delegating effectively

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Last editedApr 20212 min read

Delegating is something of an art, but it’s essential for effective team management. Find out everything you need to know, starting with our overview of the meaning of delegating.

What is delegating?

Delegating is a buzzword you’ve probably heard before, but actual delegating (i.e., assigning a task to someone) may be poorly practiced. Delegating does not mean passing off tasks you don’t want to do yourself. It also doesn’t mean passing on all your tasks, so you don’t have to worry about them. A successful delegating leadership style is based on a solid understanding of your team’s talents and strengths and good project management, all while keeping employee satisfaction in mind.

Creating a delegating leadership style

It takes a certain level of competence to be a good leader. While the idea of delegating tasks seems simple – take a task and give it to someone else – the reality is a bit more complex. Remember, delegating work isn’t just about handing jobs from your to-do pile, it’s about creating a workflow that ensures the best outcome. Consider the following when you start delegating work:

  • Team availability: Don’t just hand out tasks without considering whether your team is even able to take them on. The last thing you want is burnout. Consider your deadlines and their current workload and above all, work together.

  • Team skills: You may all be in the same department, so you have a shared set of skills, but everyone has their own interests. You may all be accountants, for example, but someone might be especially good at chasing invoices, while another team member loathes the task. Keep all this in mind, as you don’t want to kill motivation by delegating work a team member is sure to hate.

  • Time: Don’t suddenly delegate work knowing deadlines are tight. This is sure to seem like you’re just assigning a scapegoat. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable, but you should absolutely make sure that your team knows you’re all in it together.

  • Task occurrence: If the task is a regular event, then make sure whoever you delegate to is able to take this on as a regular duty, so you don’t need to repeat this process every time.

  • Communication: Project workflows are a chain reaction, so when you are delegating work, make sure that everyone is aware of the process. Everyone should know what steps are required, both before and after their input. Without this overall understanding, team members may not carry out their tasks effectively.

Targeting issues when delegating work

While delegating may seem to be all about other people, it also requires a bit of self-reflection. It takes a certain level of confidence to effectively delegate. Not just confidence in your own ability to successfully guide your team, but in your team’s abilities too. If you feel like something is holding you back, it could be a sign that there is another issue you need to address. For example:

  • You worry work will be sub-par: Why is this? Should you offer more training? Or is this a symptom of communication breakdown?

  • The team resents the tasks: Have you considered the individual skills of each team member? If someone is particularly creative, they will not appreciate being handed a numbers-based task.

  • You worry you’ll miss deadlines: If you think your team isn’t on track, then be sure to provide support and guidance where needed. Just because a task isn’t yours, it doesn’t mean you can’t step in. No man is an island, your whole team has a role in the success of your project.

  • Your team isn’t working with you: A delegating leadership style isn’t always easy, and if you find your team isn’t responding favorably, think about where you need to improve. Are you micromanaging and stifling their work? Are you being overly authoritative and not nurturing the idea of team? Delegating tasks shouldn’t be a sign of superiority, hierarchy rarely breeds happy teams.

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