Of all the skills you’ll use as a manager, delegation is one of the most valuable. It’s also one of the most underused and underdeveloped management skills. Just 30 percent of managers claim to be able to delegate effectively – and of those 30 percent, only one-third have earned the praise of their subordinates regarding their delegation skills.
A Bachelor of Arts in Management can help you get your foot in the door career-wise, but if you aspire to be a truly great manager, polish your delegation skills while you study for your degree. Strong delegation skills help you make the most of your team’s resources. You’ll earn the loyalty of your team members as you delegate tasks that give them the chance to grow and develop their own skills. Your team will produce better results due to the confidence you’ll inspire in them. Best of all, you’ll be free to focus on the work that only you, as the manager, are qualified to do.
Successful delegation requires good communication and people skills, trust in your team and knowledge of each team member’s skill set. Once you’ve chosen to delegate a task, take care to relinquish control to the person in question – don’t try to take it back, or allow him or her to shuttle it back to you.
Choose the Right Tasks to Delegate
Before you can start delegating, you need to choose which tasks you’re going to relinquish control of. Every project has certain tasks that only the manager can handle; you should always keep those tasks for yourself. Delegate everything else – including and especially tasks that don’t suit your interests or skills.
Choose the Right Team Members for Each Task
Don’t just delegate tasks to the person with the least on his or her plate. Just because someone technically has extra time in which to complete a task, it doesn’t mean he or she has the skills or experience to do it well. Get to know your team members – their character traits, work ethics and skills. Delegate tasks to the people most capable of handling them.
Trust Your Team Members
One problem many managers have with delegation is that they’re afraid no one else will be able to do a task as well as they can, or as quickly. You need to trust your team members to be able to competently handle the tasks you’ve assigned them. Give your team members the support they need to get their jobs done – equipment or information, for example – and then step back.
Remember that there’s a world of difference between doing something improperly and doing it differently. Your team members may not do things in the exact same way that you would. Respect differences in style as long as tasks are done well.
Give Clear Instructions
Your team members can’t give you the results you want if they don’t know how those results should look. Give clear instructions for each task you delegate. Remember that there can be a pretty fine line between giving thorough, clear instructions and talking down to someone by explaining a task in too much detail. Think about what would have been helpful for you when you were learning the same task, and you’ll have a solid basis for your instructions.
Set a Reasonable Completion Schedule
Give each team member a reasonable deadline for completing his or her task. Make sure he or she has the time necessary. Set up a schedule with regular milestones, so you can monitor the task as it progresses. Ask your team member what kind of schedule he or she is comfortable with; if you’re not comfortable with the milestones your team member suggests, hash out a compromise.
Inspire loyalty and maintain engagement among your team by rewarding them for both their results and their efforts. Rewarding effort builds confidence, which improves results, which earn further rewards, creating a feedback loop of success. This is especially true for team members who may be stepping outside their comfort zones and building new skills. Praise and public recognition are two great ways to reward your team members.
Delegation skills are a must for any manager who hopes to inspire his or her team and reach his or her own potential. Build your own delegation skills and keep them sharp throughout your career, and you’ll be rewarded with a passionate, loyal team dedicated to helping the company succeed.