Delegation The art of not doing everything yourself

By John Young

Delegation is a task that every supervisor needs to know and know how to accomplish well and successfully. Because your success at delegation is one of those important factors that will determine your success as a supervisor. Delegation is the skill of allowing others to assist you in the completion of the tasks you are given to accomplish over the course of your career. You will find that you are given as much and as many tasks as you can complete and there will come a time when you will need help to get all of those tasks completed by the time they are expected to be completed.

And delegation is the answer to the question - "How do I, and my team, get everything completed on time?"

The first question to consider is WHEN to delegate.

Delegating a task or series of tasks is always a success when it is done appropriately but that doesn't mean that everything gets delegated. To figure out when delegation is appropriate there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is this a task that can be delegated or one that you should complete yourself? Don't forget to consider the quality of the completed task. Would "Adequate" be acceptable? If failure an option?
  • Is there time to delegate the task? This means time to train a person, if they need it. Time to answer any questions that person might have. Time to check on their progress and to correct or even restart the task if necessary.
  • Is there anyone else who possesses (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?
  • Is there someone who would benefit from being delegated the responsibility to accomplish the task? i.e. Would this delegation provide an opportunity for that person to grow and further develop?
  • Is this a task that will need to be accomplished again?

If the answer to some of these questions is "Yes," then you should consider delegating this task. So if you have decided to delegate the task then your next question is:

WHO do I delegate the task to for completion?

You're going to have to consider a few different matters while answering this question. Matters like -

  • What are the skills, experience, and knowledge that will be necessary to complete the task?
  • Who comes closest to having those skills, experience, and knowledge?
  • Do you have the time to train them in the skills they lack that will be necessary to complete the task?
  • Will the person that you delegate to grow from the experience? Are they looking to grow?
  • Does the person have the time to accomplish the delegated task? Would they need to have other responsibilities and work assigned to other individuals?

Once you've answered all of the questions about should you delegate and who should you delegate to then you have to actually start delegating. Or ...

HOW do I delegate that task?

The first thing you have to do when delegating a task, is MAKE SURE THAT YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! You can't expect someone else to successfully complete the task if you don't know what that task looks like when it's completed. If you don't know what needs to be done then the only thing you are doing is setting them up for failure.

Next, you need to communicate with the person and clearly outline your expectations for the completion of the task. This doesn't mean that you have to walk them through every step as they are doing the task but you should provide them with enough information to successfully accomplish the task in the time given. This means that there is not always only one way to accomplish a task. You should also remember that communication is a two-way process and allow them to ask questions concerning the task. Be sure that you are providing them with a timeline for completion and include a time when you will be checking in on their progress or completion. Ask them to help you establish that time.

Be sure to give yourself time to correct any mistakes or problems that may occur during the completion of the delegated task. Don't make them rush to much that they have no chance at completing the task but also give yourself time to help them get the task finished before the final deadline. Remember, you may be able to complete the task the right way the first time and in the quickest time but that won't allow your people to grow and it will also keep you from accomplishing other tasks.

When the task is completed be sure to give the credit where that credit is due. This is equally important in both directions. You should thank the people who completed the delegated task, and don't be afraid to let others hear you thank those people. You should also be sure that your superiors know who to thank for the completion of the task. This not only gives the people to whom you delegated that task a feeling of appreciation but it also helps them grow by giving them that sense of accomplishment that hopefully will help them become even better employees and maybe even the person you promote to fill your position when you get promoted.

A worksheet to help you cover everything when you delegate a task to your employee
Created By
John Young

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