7 Tips to Help You Delegate More Effectively
There's more to delegating than just asking someone to do something. If you want to delegate effectively, you have to include mutual consultation and agreement between yourself and the members of your team. Solicit team members' reactions and ideas, thereby bringing trust, support, and open communication to the process.
You can delegate much more effectively starting right now by putting the following seven steps to work for you.
1. Explain exactly what your employees are being asked to do.
Make sure the members of your team understand the responsibilities you are asking them to take on. Encourage them to ask questions if they are uncertain what it is you want them to do.
2. Describe how you will evaluate employee performance.
Explain the specific goals for each team member, and how you'll know whether or not an employee has accomplished them. Make sure the goals are specific, attainable, relevant, and measurable. Use personal persuasion and leadership, not the power of your title and position, to emphasize what is expected of each person. Reach an agreement on the performance standards that will be set for a task. Explain what results you expect to see and in what form the results must be presented. Be specific. What would an unacceptable job look like? What about an outstanding job?
3. Grant the authority required to complete the task.
When you delegate a task, you've also got to delegate the authority required to successfully complete it. Do anything less, and you will place a potentially insurmountable obstacle in the path of your employees. Authority can include such things as a budget (and the ability to spend it) and permission to make decisions.
4. Get acknowledgment that team members understand and agree to the assignment.
If this step is omitted, you may find out later that an employee objected to working on the task--resulting in a failed delegation. Reveal any employee doubts, questions, or suggestions in advance to overcome those concerns. Allow the person to complete the task in the way he or she believes most effective for obtaining the desired objectives. Telling team members specifically how to complete an assignment is not an effective means of delegating work. It limits creativity and initiative while diminishing self-esteem.
5. Establish a system to reward outstanding performance.
Tell your employees in advance both the positive and negative consequences to expect for excellent and poor performances. Specifying rewards in advance helps to motivate individuals. Identifying negative consequences is equally important for being fair and holding people accountable for their actions.
6. Check your employees' work.
When you check your employees' work, not only will you catch issues and problems as they occur, but also your employees will be motivated by your personal attention to the work they are doing. To determine how often to check, first decide the degree of control necessary for the task and team member. While inexperienced team members will need tight control, experienced employees will be more creative when loosely controlled.
7. Fix any problems that arise.
If your employee can't execute the delegated tasks, you will need to quickly take corrective action. Take your employee aside and explain your concerns. You're not doing any favors by withholding your worries. Agree to a plan with your employee to begin properly executing the delegated tasks. If the situation does not improve, rescind the person's authority over others or keep it yourself.
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.