People use many excuses for not delegating. Their reasons are usually unfounded. You’ll get more done through delegation if you assume the opposite of the following statements is true:
- I could do it better myself.
- I don’t know if I can trust her to do it.
- He isn’t qualified to do it.
- She doesn’t want any added responsibilities.
- I don’t have the time to show anyone how to do it.
- There is no one else to delegate to.
- He already has enough to do.
- I don’t want to give up this task because I like doing it.
- I’m the only person who knows how to do this.
She messed up last time, so I’m not giving her anything else to do.
What To Delegate
- Don’t delegate what you can eliminate. If you shouldn’t be doing an activity, then perhaps you shouldn’t be giving the activity away to others. Eliminate it.
Delegate routine activities, even though you don’t want to:
- Fact-finding assignments
- Preparation of rough drafts of reports
- Problem analysis and suggested actions
- Collection of data for reports
- Photocopying, printing, collating
- Fact-finding assignments
- Delegate things that aren’t part of your core competency. For small businesses, these include accounting, web site design, deliveries, hardware upkeep, software help, graphic design, travel arrangements, patenting, legal issues and even HR functions such as payroll.
- Some things you can’t delegate: performance reviews, discipline, firing.
- Create a plan to delegate. Don’t give out assignments haphazardly.
- Invest short term time in training to gain a long term increase in productivity.
- Others may end up doing a better job than you can or finding new ways to complete a task.
- Delegate, don’t abdicate. Someone else can do the task, but you’re still responsible for the completion of it, and for managing the delegation process.
Make sure the standards and the outcome are clear. What needs to be done, when should it be finished and to what degree of quality or detail?
- Delegate the objective, not the procedure. Outline the desired results, not the methodology.
- Ask people to provide progress reports. Set interim deadlines to see how things are going.
- Delegate to the right person. Don’t always give tasks to the strongest, most experienced or first available person.
- Spread delegation around and give people new experiences as part of their training.
- Obtain feedback from employees to ensure they feel they’re being treated appropriately. A simple “How’s it going with that new project?” might be all that’s needed.
- Be sure to delegate the authority along with the responsibility. Don’t make people come back to you for too many minor approvals.
- Trust people to do well and don’t look over their shoulders or check up with them along the way, unless they ask.
- Be prepared to trade short term errors for long term results.
- When you finish giving instructions, the last thing to ask is, “What else do you need to get started?” They’ll tell you.