For years I heard what some considered a wonderful piece of advice if you have too many things to do, or you don’t like to do something, delegate! Some people delegate only if it is completely necessary because they are buried on work. Sometimes delegation comes after the realization that you can ask somebody to do what you hate so much. Either one of these reasons is wrong.
Many leaders don’t delegate citing reasons like lack of time for training, it is easier or faster if they do it, the belief that only them has the necessary skill set to complete the task or the fear of not meeting deadlines or not accomplishing the expected results. I used the same excuses to not delegate but then I realize that delegation is an excellent tool to promote the growth of our employees. If it is done right, it is also perfect to gain some extra time that we can use for continuous improvement activities.
Once you decided to use delegation as part of your team development, the first step is to decide which tasks can be delegated and which ones cannot. Identify those tasks that even if you hate them, you are the only one that can do them. Only you can group tasks based on criticality, level of sensitivity or confidentiality, skill level and effort.
When you delegate you are not transferring the responsibility of completing a task, you are still responsible for it. You are also responsible for setting up your employee for success. Start by matching the necessary skills to complete the task with those of your employees and choose the one that matches better. Once you identify who to delegatee, the next step is to sit down with him or her to have an honest talk about why you want to delegate and why to he or her. Explain the development opportunities but do not hide the challenges coming with it. Never let your employee alone on this journey, design a basic training program and execute it. Do not pretend to dictate every step of the way, allow your employee to think on his/her own and develop his/her own way to do it, trust but verify.
As part of the training, set up expectations, what needs to be done and how milestones and due dates. Also provide instructions, contact names and information if necessary and establish follow-up dates to make sure everything is on track.
Delegation done right can be excellent for both parties, but make sure that you are delegating and not just assigning a task. Delegating is one of the core concepts of management leadership. The person who delegated the work share the responsibility for the outcome with the person doing the work. By delegating you enables the person doing the work to decide how to achieve it, gives he or she the authority to do the job and offers opportunities to develop new skills. If none of these happen then you are just assigning a task.