If you’ve been in business for any length of time you’ve likely heard about the importance of delegating work effectively. In fact, most entrepreneurs would agree that one of the best ways to free up time for high priority projects is by delegating lower priority work to someone else. This management theory sounds fairly simple … until you have to deal with handing over seemingly straightforward tasks to real people.
Delegating “sounds fairly simple … until you have to deal with handing over seemingly straightforward tasks to real people.”
Delegation is an interesting exercise in the study of human nature and delegators come in all types. From those who dump a pile of work on their employees’ desk at 5:00pm (and want it done first thing in the morning) to those who are convinced there is nobody who can do the work as well as they can.
Wherever you fall on the workflow spectrum, these delegation tips can improve your team dynamic and productivity:
Influence in lieu of overlording.
Okay. We know you are the boss, and your team knows it too, so please ask for help instead of demanding it. You’ll likely still get results if you demand it, but who knows what you will get in the mix.
Employees aren’t psychic.
That’s right, even though you can clearly see the potential in every single team member that doesn’t make them mind readers. Hence, paint a very clear picture of what you want and the results you expect. Never withhold information from employees. Give them the resources and tools they need to complete the project.
Go light on texts and emails.
“According to Experian, U.S. smartphone owners aged 18 to 24 send 2,022 texts per month on average — 67 texts on a daily basis — and receive another 1,831.” (Source: Business Insider) We live in a world of texting and it can be pretty hard to remember you can actually communicate by simply opening your mouth instead of typing on a keypad. When it comes to delegation, make use of that age-old skill and take the time to talk through things, answer questions, and explain specifically what you need completed. I promise you, it will go a long way towards faster and more accurate results.
Set clear expectations.
Imagine a world without deadlines. Pretty chaotic huh? Especially when we have our own assumptions of how quickly something should be done. There is a reason some wise person invented deadlines, so employ them. Give your team realistic deadlines with agreed upon checkpoints to gauge progress and you will exponentially increase the likelihood of getting the work done on time.
Super Woman (and Man) need help too.
Really, they do. Just because your super employee, your pride and joy, is up for the delegated task don’t assume that they’ll be able to complete it without additional help from you. Take the time to teach an employee how to do it the correct way, make yourself available for questions, and when necessary ask for periodic progress reports.
Learn and then teach.
Throwing it on a wall to see if it sticks might feel like the best workflow strategy, especially when you have no clue how to get the work done yourself, but truth be told, you really should have an idea of what you are delegating. Make sure you, or someone on your team has figured it out first before you delegate it or it might end up right back on your desk.
Delegating work to someone else doesn’t mean you can forget about it and magically wish for it to be done to perfection without lifting a finger. Alas, you are still responsible for the end result. Check on the progress regularly, ensure it’s on time and ascertain if everyone is on the same page. The job is not done until it’s been completed correctly.
Believe it or not, the ability to delegate effectively has a double payoff and you improve workplace morale and camaraderie. Best of all, you’ll save time! It doesn’t get better than this, does it?
This article has been edited and condensed.
Yamini Virani is the Founder of Celebrus Business Strategies, a management consulting and business advisory firm, that works with small business owners who want to make the Top 10 list. Connect with @yaminivirani on Twitter.
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