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Delegating Tasks: An Introduction for Managers

An effective leader knows when and how to delegate tasks to their team members. By practicing and perfecting your work delegation skills, you can become more efficient and create a team that’s confident and committed. Learn more about what delegating tasks involves, and how to effectively delegate tasks in the workplace.

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What is delegation?

Delegation is the practice of assigning responsibility for accomplishing something, like a project or task, to someone else. Efficient managers and business owners often delegate time-consuming or tedious tasks to contractors and lower-level employees because it allows them to give their attention to more important projects.

Related:What are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Manager?

Why is delegating tasks important?

As a leader and manager, delegating work is important because it aids professional development among your staff, builds trust and empowers your employees. Aside from simplifying your workload and increasing overall productivity, delegating helps you become a better manager because it lets you identify members of your team who are best suited for certain projects or tasks.

Additionally, a leader who delegates shows their subordinates that they respect and trust them, which often results in employees being more committed to their roles. Delegation of work can also has a positive impact on the efficiency of an entire organization because it lets employees focus on tasks that are better suited to their skillsets and experience.

How to effectively delegate tasks

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

Choose the right person for the job

Before you can effectively delegate a task, you need to know the preferences, strengths and weaknesses of your employees. Matching the job requirements to a person’s abilities ensures they’re able to do the work correctly and that they’ll enjoy it. It’s helpful to conduct an audit or simply ask team members if there are any specific tasks they’re interested in.

While choosing someone with abilities that match the task description is always ideal, there may be times when you must delegate tasks to less-experienced team members. In situations where you’re on a deadline and pressing tasks must be divided equally among your employees to ensure the work gets done, provide them with detailed instructions on the tasks at hand and check their work often.

Explain your reasoning

Give your employees purpose by providing a context for the added responsibility. If it’s for training purposes, explain that you’re delegating a task to each team member to further develop their skills. If you’re delegating tasks to ensure you meet a deadline, explain to your team members the importance of the assignment, and let them know that each task relates to a specific aspect of the project.

Delegation at work also helps team leaders determine areas in which their team members excel and where there’s room for improvement.

Provide clear instructions

Instead of micromanaging the methods used, advise your employees on the milestones and goals you’re hoping to accomplish with the completed project. This will free them to approach each task in their own way. Just make sure that the outcomes are clear and measurable, allowing them to better understand your expectations and overcome any self-doubt.

For detailed tasks or projects with multiple steps, it’s a good idea to provide instructions in writing. This can be in the form of an email document, or you can type up and print out a list of instructions that your team members can read and check off as they’re completed.

Provide any necessary training or resources

To ensure their success after being tasked with a project or job, make sure the individual has access to the resources and tools they need. For example, if a delegation of work requires a specific tool that someone is unfamiliar with, ensure they have access to it and that you’ve developed a plan for them to learn how to use it.

Delegate the task and authority

By empowering your staff to make any necessary decisions related to the delegation of work, you’ll free them from the need to constantly ask for your approval. 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 work environment where employees feel free to ask questions and make decisions to effectively and efficiently complete their work.

Check the work and provide feedback

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

Thank your team members for their help

One of the most important aspects of effective delegation is showing your staff genuine appreciation. Once a project or task is completed, thank your employee or employees for their hard work and point out specific things that were done well. Positive feedback and letting your staff know how much you appreciate their assistance helps them build confidence in their work and motivates them for future assignments.

Related:7 Effective Skills to Help You Become a Better Leader

FAQs about delegating tasks

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about delegation:

Why do managers avoid delegating?

Although delegation is helpful for everyone, managers may fail to effectively delegate because they:

  • Fear it will take longer than doing it themselves
  • Are afraid to let go of control
  • Think they could do it better than someone else
  • Think it’s lazy or a sign of weakness

When is delegating tasks appropriate?

Here are some examples of tasks that are ideal for delegation:

  • Time-sensitive: If you’ve got a deadline that you’re struggling to meet on your own, you can delegate aspects of the task to other team members.
  • Require skills you lack: If you can complete a task but it would take you much longer than a member of your team, delegating makes the best use of both of your time and talents.
  • Easily teachable: When you can teach a task to someone else because it requires little expertise or experience, it’s probably worth delegating.
  • Time-consuming: You can often split tasks that require a lot of time into smaller segments and then share them between several people, making the overall task easier and more efficient.
  • Mindless: Monotonous tasks require little skill, but they can be tedious. This type ofwork is perfect for delegation.
  • Small: Although smaller tasks only require a short amount of time on their own, several small tasks can end up taking up a good portion of your day. Delegating these tasks to others can let you make better use of your time.

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’ve got 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.

What types of tasks and assignments should not be delegated to lower-level employees?

While it’s important to delegate tasks to employees of all levels to help them learn and grow with your company, confidential and high priority tasks shouldn’t be delegated or assigned to lower-level employees. Crisis management tasks should always be handled by employers, team leaders and managers, and highly detailed tasks should be assigned to more experienced staff members.

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