When you lead others, it is important to know that there is an art to delegating. While some leaders think it takes too much of their time and attention to delegate work to their people, there's a big upside to this process. If done correctly, you will find that your staff are more productive and happier as a result. When your people know you trust them enough to delegate an important task, it boosts their motivation to get the job done.

It is a sign of greatness when a leader has the ability to enable their employees to get things done. One research study showed that 53 percent of business owners believe that they can grow their business by more than 20 percent if they only delegate 10 percent of their workload to someone else. That's huge.

It is time to begin delegating if you haven't started already, or refine how you delegate if you have, by following these steps:

1. Always provide feedback.

Make sure to contribute both positive and negative feedback, so the person you're giving responsibility to will understand what he or she is doing well and how they need to improve. Exceptional performance is more likely to continue if it's recognized and rewarded. Do follow through when someone performs exceptionally and be generous with promotions, salary increases and bonuses, and sincere and heartfelt thank-yous.

2. Be sure to keep an eye on things.

Monitoring the work of people will both motivate them and help you to catch problems as they arise. An inexperienced team member will need more oversight. More experienced employees can handle greater freedom and self-manage their initiative, ingenuity, and imagination.

3. Be clear about what you want your employees to do.

Make sure employees understand the responsibilities they are assuming and that they accept them. Ask them to confirm their understandings with you.

4. Delegate the right things.

Delegate recurring tasks, detail work, attendance at some meetings, and activities that will be part of team members' future responsibilities. Reserve for yourself performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, counseling and morale problems, confidential tasks, tasks specifically assigned to you, complex situations, and sensitive situations.

5. Provide guidance when necessary.

If the work veers too far from the planned guidelines, take immediate and decisive corrective action. You're not doing anyone any favors by stepping back entirely from your assignments. Mutually agree on a plan to return to the targeted goals. If the situation doesn't improve, end the assignment and move on.

6. Give employees the authority they need to get the job done.

Any delegated task must be accompanied by a delegation of authority--that is, the power and resources to get the job done. Authority may include giving the employee power to spend money, seek assistance from others, or represent the department or company.

7. Have the right attitude about delegating.

Leaders sometimes view planning as a hindrance to getting their best work done, but planning to delegate is an investment in your people, your company's culture, and in your business. It's a good thing, not a bad thing.

8. Consider the skills and interests of your people.

When assigning a task, consider each person's demonstrated skill, interest in the task, and current workload. Know his or her record of success on similar assignments--how they work with others, when they operate best, and how well they work under pressure.

9. Set clear expectations.

Explain both the overall goals of the task along with the standards that will be used to measure results. Make sure the goals are specific, attainable, relevant, and measurable.