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5 Steps to Delegating Wisely

Make the most of everyone's time and skills with these 5 tips for effectively delegating tasks and responsibility.
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You can't do everything yourself. And the bigger your business grows, the truer this becomes. That's why it's so essential to master the art of delegation.

Delegating the day-to-day work of your business frees you up to think big, reach out to customers, nail down new sources of cash, and do the things that only you can do. As a bonus, delegation provides your employees with the hands-on experience they need to develop a broader range of skills, ensuring that they will be ready to grow along with your company. This in turn builds trust, spurs employee engagement, and improves the health of your organization.

Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to delegate. Here are 5 steps for delegating effectively:

1. Be Clear and Concise

Be very clear about both the assignment and the expected outcome -- but avoid the temptation to tell your people exactly how to do their assigned tasks. Instead, describe the goal and then let them find the best approach. By allowing your team to work in the way they believe most effective, you will increase their creativity and initiative while boosting their self-esteem.

2. Grant the Necessary Authority

Anytime you delegate a task, you also need to delegate the authority -- the organizational power and resources -- required to get the job done. Without this, your employees will have a much harder time doing what you've asked. They may even become frustrated and resentful that you've given them assignments that they cannot reasonably complete.

3. Get Buy-In

Be sure to get your employees' acknowledgement that they understand assignments and agree to take on the responsibility for completion. If they have any questions or concerns, it's important to find out at the outset, rather than once projects are well underway.

4. Monitor Progress

Monitoring your team's work does two things: it motivates them and it helps you catch problems early. It's important to know the degree of monitoring necessary for each task and each employee. An inexperienced employee, for example, will need tight control, while loose controls are appropriate for those who already know the ropes. 

5. Correct When Necessary

If progress veers too far from the discussed guidelines, it’s time for you to take immediate and decisive corrective action. Do this first through verbal discussion, in-person whenever possible. Agree on a plan to return to targeted goals and explain the consequences for not getting back on track. But if the situation doesn't quickly improve, you may need to take the task back and delegate it to someone else.

The job of any manager is to get things done through other people, and delegation is the way to do it. The sooner you master this vital skill, the sooner your business -- and your bottom line -- will benefit.

Last updated: Aug 20, 2013

PETER ECONOMY

While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.




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