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Delegating Tasks: How to Delegate Work Effectively

As a manager, it’s tempting to handle all the important tasks yourself to maintain control. Delegation of work isn’t always easy, but it’s an essential business skill that effective leaders need to create a more efficient work environment. Learn more about what delegated tasks involve and how to effectively delegate a task in the workplace.

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What is delegation?

Delegation happens when you assign a specific task to someone else. A manager or superior often transfers specific tasks and projects to team members with the skills to complete them. Effective delegation doesn’t mean you push all your responsibilities onto someone else. Rather, it means you carefully assess the tasks you need to complete and determine which ones someone else can handle without compromising the outcome or quality. Recognizing a team member’s skills and giving them space to exercise them is a mark of effective leadership that can boost autonomy and ultimately strengthen teamwork.

Why is delegating tasks important?

Aside from simplifying your workload and increasing overall productivity, delegating work offers benefits for the manager and the employees. Some key benefits include:

  • Employee confidence. Proper delegation of work can help team members feel confident that their manager trusts them to succeed with new or additional responsibilities.That can improve employee happiness and commitment to the organization.
  • Skills development. Another perk for employees is the chance to learn new skills. Delegated tasks might push them outside their comfort zone and prepare them for advancement opportunities.
  • Productivity. Assigning tasks to people who have the necessary skills can improve workplace productivity. They can complete the task more efficiently, and you can disperse the workload evenly across the team to avoid overloading certain team members.
  • More time. For the manager, delegation at work frees up time to focus on the most important tasks, which might include income-generating activities that help the company grow faster.
  • Improved management skills. Delegation work helps you become a better manager because it lets you identify employees who are best suited for certain projects or tasks.

Barriers to effective delegation at work

Manager delegation doesn’t always come naturally for leaders. Identifying barriers can improve delegation at work. Here are some common barriers to work delegation:

  • Lack of confidence. Some people in supervisory roles lack the confidence or assertiveness to assign tasks to their subordinates.This can also happen if the manager lacks control over the team and doesn’t want to upset anyone by assigning them more work.
  • Doubt in the team. If the manager doesn’t have confidence in the team’s abilities, they might hesitate to let other people take on delegated tasks.
  • Desire to maintain control. It can be difficult to let go of responsibilities, especially if you feel like you do the best job on the tasks.Some managers want complete control over how tasks are done.
  • Lack of experience. It could be a matter of not knowing how to delegate a task effectively. If you’ve never delegated before, it can be intimidating to try.
  • Time-consuming. Some managers simply feel it’s faster to do it themselves rather than explain the task to someone else.
  • Wrong mindset. Some people see delegation as avoiding responsibilities or being lazy by unloading your work onto someone else. It actually frees you up for more important tasks, so you can have greater success.

Types of tasks to delegate

Not all tasks require delegation. In some cases, delegating adds more time to the full process than simply completing it yourself. Here are some of the types of tasks thatwork well for delegation:

  • Small, one-time tasks. Quick, one-off, simple tasks don’t require a lot of effort, but they still consume a lot of the manager’s time and keep them from other tasks.Delegating those tasks, such as delivering items or sending brief correspondences, ensures they are completed in a timely manner.These delegated tasks are easy to assign and explain, making them ideal for newer or less-experienced employees.
  • Organizational tasks. This category includes administrative responsibilities, such as printing papers, copying documents, entering data or filing paperwork. These situations require little oversight and can be accomplished by one person easily.They might be ongoing or occasional tasks.
  • Smaller parts of larger projects. A large project can be too much for one person to handle. Complex tasks can often be broken down into smaller, faster tasks.This lets you spread the workload for more effective completion.
  • Time-sensitive tasks. Some tasks need to be completed quickly, and you might not be able to address them fast enough yourself. Letting someone else handle those responsibilities can keep the project on track.
  • Requires skills you lack. If you don’t have the skills for a specific task, it can take you extra time to complete it. You might assign the task to someone on the team who already has those skills so both people can use their talents well.
  • Easily teachable. Ideal delegated tasks are responsibilities you can easily teach to someone else.

How to effectively delegate tasks

Here are some tips to help you effectively delegate tasks to team members.

1. Choose the right person for the job

Learn each of your employees’ strengths, weaknesses and unique skills, so you know where to assign individuals when the need arises. Consider their social preferences as well. For example, if an employee works best alone, assign them a task with little need for additional help. It’s helpful to conduct an audit or simply ask team members if there are specific tasks they’re interested in.

There may be times when you must delegate tasks to less-experienced team members to meet a deadline or divide work equally. In those situations, provide them with detailed instructions on the tasks and check their work often. While some team members seem naturally well-suited for specific tasks, don’t pigeonhole people into the same tasks all the time. Give other team members a chance if they have the necessary skills.

2. Explain your reasoning

Give your employees purpose and help them prepare by providing context for the added responsibility.For instance, you might explain that you’re delegating a task to further develop their skills. If you’re delegating tasks to ensure you meet a deadline, relay the importance of the assignment along with the deadline and the significance to the overall project. Define the process involved, and set expectations, such as quality, time lines and other requirements.

3. Provide clear instructions

Always brief employees on task instructions, even if they’ve done the work before. In some cases, the new task comes with minor changes, or the employee may forget specific details. For detailed tasks or projects with multiple steps, it’s a good idea to provide written instructions. This can be via email or printed instructions.

Instead of micromanaging the work, advise your employees on the milestones and goals for their assigned duties. This gives them a framework while freeing them to approach each task in their own way. Make sure that the outcomes are clear and measurable, so they understand your expectations and overcome any self-doubt.

4. Provide any necessary training or resources

If the task is new to the employee, provide training and any helpful information you can, including resources they can access if you’re unavailable. To ensure their success after being tasked with a project or job, make sure the individual has the resources and tools they need. For example, if a delegation of work requires a specific tool they’ve never used, ensure they have access to it and receive training on using it. Let them know who they can contact if they need assistance.

5. Delegate the task and authority

When you delegate a task to another employee, you also need to grant them the authority to carry out the task fully. This empowers them to make the decisions necessary to complete the responsibility efficiently without needing constant approval. All delegated tasks require different levels of authority. Basic administrative tasks might not require any authority at all, while tasks that require supervising other employees need a higher level of leadership.

When assigning tasks, ensure the person can handle the responsibility. This can motivate your employees and help contribute to a positive working environment. Although you want to empower them to make decisions on their own, make it clear that you welcome any suggestions or questions about the delegated work.

When a team feels comfortable enough to approach their supervisor, it improves their understanding and commitment to the job. As a result, you’ll develop a collaborative work environment where employees feel free to ask questions and make decisions to effectively and efficiently complete their work.

6. Check the work and provide feedback

You might be asking someone else to do a task for you, but you’re still ultimately responsible for making sure it gets completed on time and correctly. Check on the work as needed, especially when employees are done with the tasks,to ensure they meet the specifications.

Aside from checking to make sure the delegated work is done correctly, it’s important to allow room for mistakes, especially with newer or less-experienced employees. If and when a mistake occurs with delegated tasks, provide the employee with constructive feedback so they can improve their performance in the future.

7. Thank your team members for their help

One of the most important aspects of effective delegation is showing your staff genuine appreciation. Providing positive feedback and letting your staff know how much you appreciate their assistance help them build confidence in their work and motivate them for future assignments. Once the delegated project ends, thankeveryone involved to help build morale. Send an email to each person individually,give them hand-written thank-you notes or recognize them in a meeting.

FAQs about delegating tasks

What is a good way to delegate effectively when a deadline is approaching?

When a deadline is fast approaching, prioritize the most important tasks and assign them to experienced team members, then delegate less-challenging tasks to newer or less-experienced members. For example, if you have a deadline to pack and ship multiple orders of your company’s products, you could have your seasoned team members pack each box to ensure all items are accounted for, while your newer employees seal and label the boxes.

How do I become more comfortable with delegating?

Think about why you struggle with work delegation to help you overcome the issues. If it’s a trust issue, schedule team-building activities, and get to know your team better. Learn their strengths to help you better delegate different tasks to someone you can trust to do a good job. If you lack the confidence in delegating, start with a small task to practice the process and gain confidence. Remind yourself of the benefits of delegating if you’re worried about transferring tasks to other team members.

What should I consider when delegating tasks?

Successful delegation at work requires careful consideration and detailed instructions. These tips will help you delegate tasks successfully:

  • Set specific beginning and end dates or times for the task.
  • Ensure you spread the workload evenly across the team.
  • Understand the elements involved with each task.
  • Ensure you give your employees the support and tools necessary to complete the delegated tasks effectively.
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