Let it go; how to delegate effectively

how to delegate effectively

The inability to delegate effectively is a principal reason why executives fail.  According to London Business School Professor John Hunt, only 30% of managers think that they are able to delegate well.  Among these individuals only one-third are considered to be good delegators by their subordinates.

For many managers there is a fear of delegation – a fear of letting go and a fear of losing control.  Others confuse delegation for giving away or passing off work, and therefore steer clear.  On the other side are those individuals who delegate too easily; managers who delegate everything, but do so ineffectively setting everyone up for failure.

There are still others who have no idea when to delegate and/or how to approach the act of delegation.

Here are 10 steps to successful and effective delegation:

Know when to delegate.  Use the 70% rule.  Simply put, if the person is able to perform the task at least 70% as well as you are able to, you should delegate the task.

Also consider delegating tasks that you are not good at, tasks you don’t like, tasks that you would like others to learn, or tasks that others should learn.

Choose the right person.  When delegating it is important that you choose the right person to whom to delegate.  Don’t make the mistake of delegating to the person who has the most time available.  Instead, delegate to the individual who has the skills and abilities to deliver.

Trust.  Don’t second guess, don’t micro-manage, don’t become a backseat driver.  Once you have delegated a task you need to trust that the individual will not only accomplish the task but also that they will do a good job.

Provide clear instructions.  It is critical that you provide clear instructions on the task including your expectations, a timeline including the date due, and other details that are needed so that the individual has the information needed to succeed.

Provide the right tools.  Make sure you provide the individual with the right tools to accomplish the task.

Delegate in responsibility and authority.  Don’t just delegate the task, make sure that you delegate the responsibility and authority as well.

Answer questions.  Do not delegate a task and then end all communication.  Instead, make sure that you are available to answer questions or to clarify things as necessary.

Recognize that there is more than one way to accomplish a task.  Don’t assume that how you would accomplish the task is the only way and/or is the right way.  Once you delegate the task you need to support the individual and their approach to accomplishing the task.

Provide recognition.  It is important to recognize the work accomplished.  Provide public and written recognition.

Say thank you. Don’t forget to say thank you.  Saying thank you is very powerful; however, it is often forgotten.

Delegating effectively is critical for business and for your sanity.  Let it go.


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