How to Delegate

How to Delegate

As a team leader, you likely have a lot on your plate over the course of a day, week or month. However, there are only so many hours in a day, and so it often becomes necessary to hand some of your tasks off to others.

Being able to successfully delegate is a critical part of being an effective manager, but it's also something that professionals may be uncomfortable with. They would rather multitask all day, every day, than ask someone to take on all but the most basic tasks for them.

So how do you work yourself out of that cycle and be more at ease when it comes to delegation? We have a few suggestions:

1) Identify the best tasks to pass off

Again, many managers don't like to delegate because they believe things are too complicated for employees to handle, but that's often not the case. You're all professionals here, and you have to trust that the people you rely on to do plenty of other stuff can handle something you would normally take care of yourself.

Therefore, Harvard Business School recommended that when you're feeling swamped, you use a few minutes to take stock of everything you need to tackle, and separate them into two groups: Those you absolutely have to take care of yourself, and those that can delegated. Delineating like this can help you feel more comfortable with your workload, and with handing off various tasks to others.

You can trust your employees to take certain tasks off your plate.You can trust your employees to take certain tasks off your plate.

2) Look at what each employee is good at

Of course, you can't just delegate any task to any employee. You have to be judicious about doling out these responsibilities, and identify who has both the bandwidth and skill to handle what you would give them. If this is something related to communication, you don't want to assign someone whose emails are always a little unclear. Match the task to the right employee, and you'll have far less to worry about.

3) Don't hover over a project you just handed off

An all-too-common misstep managers make when delegating is the tendency to still want to be aware of every little detail of how that task is progressing, according to Entrepreneur magazine. Sometimes, good leadership is about letting people do what you asked them to do without micro-management.

In theory, you're handing them these tasks because you trust them to do a good job, so once you've delegated, it's time to focus on the stuff you're clearing your schedule for in the first place.

4) Create a clear set of expectations

Whether you're handing off one task on your list or a dozen, it's important that the people taking them on have plenty of clarity about what you want from them. As the Society for Human Resource Management noted, this may mean laying out very specific goals for what a project needs to entail, when it must be completed, who should be looped in and so on. That way, you're all on the same page, and as a manager, you can move on with peace of mind.

Being able to delegate various tasks with confidence and then, crucially, focus on other aspects of your own workload is a critical part of being an effective manager. With that in mind, ICML's Essential Leadership Skills course can be a great way to build your own toolbox and become a better manager — both in terms of how you handle your own work and how you deal with the professionals you supervise. Get in touch with us today to learn more about developing these skills.

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