Delegating Tasks: An Introduction for Managers

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


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What is delegating? 

Delegation is the practice of assigning the 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? 

For leaders and managers, delegation 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 also helps you become a better manager because it allows you to identify which members of your team are best suited for certain projects or tasks. Additionally, when a leader delegates, they show their subordinates that they respect and trust them, which often results in employees who are more committed to their role, organization and supervisor.

Delegation also has a positive impact on the efficiency of an entire organization because it allows the right people to focus on tasks that are better suited to their skillsets and expertise. 


How to effectively delegate tasks 

Use these steps to help you effectively delegate tasks to others:


1. 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. By matching the job requirements to a person’s abilities, you ensure that they are able to do the work correctly and that they will enjoy it. It’s helpful to conduct an audit or simply ask your team which tasks they are most interested in doing.


2. Explain your reasoning

Give your employees purpose by providing a context for the added responsibility. Explain that you are giving them a task to further develop their skills and grow their career.


3. Give them clear instructions

Instead of micromanaging the methods used, tell employees the milestones and goals that you are hoping to accomplish from the project. This will free them to approach the problem 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.


4. Provide any necessary training or resources

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


5. Delegate the task and authority

By empowering your staff to make any necessary decisions related to the delegated work, you will free them from feeling the need to constantly get your approval. This will motivate better performance levels from your employees and create a more competent staff. Though you want to empower them to make decisions on their own, it’s also important that you make it clear that you welcome any suggestions or questions about the delegated work.

When a team feels that they are able to approach their supervisor, it improves their understanding and commitment to the job. As a result, you will develop a work environment where the employees feel like they are able to ask questions and make decisions to effectively and efficiently complete their work.


6. Check the work and give them feedback

Aside from checking to make sure that the delegated work was done correctly, provide your employees with constructive feedback that will allow them to improve their performance in the future. 


7. Thank them for their help

Maybe one of the most important aspects of effective delegation is showing your staff genuine appreciation. Once the project or task has been completed, make sure to thank the employee for their hard work and point out specific things that they did well. By telling them what they did right, you give them a better idea of what they can do to be successful in the future.

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


Delegating FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding delegation:


Why do managers avoid delegating? 

Though delegation is helpful for everyone, many 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 appropriate?

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

  • Time-sensitive: If you are working on a deadline that you are 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 is probably an option for delegation.
  • Time-consuming: You can often split tasks that require a lot of time into smaller segments and then share them with several people, making the overall work much easier and efficient for everyone involved.
  • Mindless: Monotonous tasks require little skill, but they can be tedious. This type of work is perfect for delegation.
  • Small: Though tiny 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. Assigning these tasks to others will make the best use of your time.
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