Early in your career, you probably specialized in some skill that you were particularly good at -- perhaps it's why you were hired and chosen for promotions. You might have been a talented accountant, or a great product designer, or a social media whiz. You were an exemplary individual contributor.

But at some point, you were plucked out of your specialization to become a manager -- a leader of other individual contributors. This change in your career trajectory requires that you adopt the manager's mindset.

Not only do you need solid technical, analytical, and organizational skills, but you've got to have good people skills, too. The one skill that can make the greatest difference in your effectiveness is the ability to delegate well. It's the rock-solid foundation of the manager's mindset. 

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.

Here are 5 steps for delegating effectively -- and adopting the manager's mindset:

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 is 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' acknowledgment 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 under way.

4. Monitor progress.

Monitoring your team's work does two things: It motivates the team, 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.

Published on: Jan 22, 2019