The Fine Art of Delegation

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Delegation Skills

The Fine Art of Delegation

If you can't find enough hours in the day to get your job done, perhaps you're not delegating effectively. This article contains ten tips to make any manager a more effective delegator.

Delegation and Delegating

In today's busy world, one of the best ways to get more time for those top-priority projects is by delegating some of the lower-priority work to someone else. (If you're able to eliminate it, that's even better.)

Now, I don't know about you, but many people are reluctant or afraid to delegate some of their work.

Do any of these reasons sound familiar?

  • Nobody can do this work as well as I can.
  • If I delegate this work, there's no guarantee that it'll get done properly.
  • If someone else does this better than I do, my job may no longer be secure.
  • I don't have time to teach someone else how to do it.
  • I want to be seen as a nice guy, not a slave driver.

You're Part of a Team

When we try to help each other out, it's called teamwork. In a well-run organisation, everyone works together as a team.

Different jobs are performed by different team members and there are various levels of authority and responsibility. But the team was formed for one purpose: to get the job done successfully and help everybody go home a winner.

Think of yourself as a member of a team and you'll have a lot less trouble with the concept of delegating.

Ten Delegating Tips

Here are ten delegating tips that will save your time and get you the help you need:

  1. Ask for help, don't demand.
  2. Make sure the person has a clear picture of the purpose of any delegated work and knows what kind of results you expect. Take the time to talk it through, explaining specifically what you're looking for. Encourage questions.
  3. Give the person all the information and other resources they'll need to complete the project.
  4. Set a realistic deadline that's agreeable and workable for both of you.
  5. Keep yourself available for questions and when necessary, ask for periodic progress reports.
  6. Don't assume a person will be able to complete a delegated task without any additional help or assistance from you.
  7. Never give a person a task you yourself aren't familiar with. And, don't toss a pile of papers on somebody's desk at 5 PM and say, "I want this done by tomorrow morning." This can be grounds for mutiny.
  8. Give the person the opportunity to be imaginative and take the initiative.
  9. If you feel the job is being done poorly or incorrectly, pitch in and help. Take the time to teach the person how to do it the correct way.
  10. When the project has been completed, give lots of praise and credit for a job well done.

Keep Track Of Delegated Work

Delegating a job to someone else doesn't mean you can forget about it. Put the person's initials next to the item on your things to-do list and enter the deadline you've both agreed upon on your calendar.

Don't cross that job off your list until it's been successfully completed.

If you're delegating a part of a larger project, you need to make doubly sure that the work is completed on time; otherwise the whole project may be delayed.

Delegating is a confidence builder, for both the delegatee and the delegator. With practice you'll gain confidence in your own ability to delegate and in your colleague’s ability to complete the work.

Your colleagues will become more sure of their ability to handle the job. And you will both feel the satisfaction of making an important contribution to your team - and to the success of your company.

The ability to delegate effectively has a double payoff. You'll save time, which you can spend on other important projects, and you'll send a signal to your colleagues and superiors that you're an effective manager of your time and an excellent team player. . . maybe even captain material.

This article was contributed by Bill Lee

Bill Lee is author of 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot ($21.95) plus $6 S&H for the first book and $1 S&H for each additional book.


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