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To Be A Great Leader, You Need To Delegate Well

This article is authored by Federico Omarini, Talent Onboarding & Business Manager, Cegos Italia S.p.A.

As humans, we are limited in our capacity to do work by the number of hours in the day. After all, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender or social background, everyone gets the same 24-hours. How is it then, that some people manage to get exponentially more work out of a regular day than anyone else around them?

If you are good at your job, the people and organizations that you may be associated with will always want more from you. Allowed to run unchecked, this can potentially lead to an extreme sense of pressure, causing you to feel stressed and unhappy. If not corrected, this path inevitably leads to burnout, something that an increasingly greater number of people are finding themselves familiar with.

This holds truer than ever for leaders and senior business executives, who can often be found juggling different departments, teams and companies successfully within the same 24-hours. How then do successful leaders manage to get more out of their day than others, while still staying sane?

The answer lies in the art and science of delegation.

Delegation is More Difficult Than it Sounds:

To take your first steps to delegating successfully, you must first make yourself familiar with the resilience and resilience to it. Why don’t people delegate?

In a sentence, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort.

After all, which is easier: designing and writing content for a brochure that promotes a new service you helped spearhead, or having other members of your team do it? You know the content inside and out. You can write the problem and benefit statements in your sleep. It would be straightforward for you to sit down and write it. It would even be fun!

The question is, “Would writing a brochure be a good use of your time, or could you put that time to better use?” And if you are in any kind of a leadership position, chances are that there are a ton of other, more important things that need your energy and attention.

Imagine writing the brochure as any non-critical task that is keeping you from other more important duties, and you will realize the need and importance of delegation.

By delegating the task to someone else, you can focus on what’s more important: Getting the maximum ROT, or return-on-time. What’s more, delegation also allows you to professionally develop the individuals in your team. This means that next time a similar project comes along, you can delegate to them with a higher degree of confidence, progressively reducing your involvement.

When And What Should You Delegate:

Delegation is a win-win situation when done right but that doesn’t mean you can delegate just anything.

To know when delegating a task is appropriate, there are six important questions to ask:

  • Is there anyone else with the necessary information and expertise to complete the task, and is your involvement needed?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity for growth and development for the person you are delegating it to?
  • Will this task re-occur in a similar form in the future?
  • Do you have time to delegate the task effectively? There must be time for adequate training, questions, and answers, opportunities to check progress, and bandwidth for rework if needed.
  • Can you measure the criticality of the task against the competence of the person you are delegating it to?
  • Can you use the time saved through delegation, for something more important?

If your answer to 3 or more of the above questions is yes, then you should definitely consider delegating.

However, having all these conditions present is no guarantee that delegation will be successful. You will also have to consider a couple of other things, including the person to whom you will delegate the task.

Choosing the Right Person to Delegate to:

Some of the key factors that you must consider, while choosing the person to delegate the task/tasks to include:

  • The experience, knowledge, and skillset of the individual you are delegating the task to:
  • What are the skills, experience, knowledge, and skills of the person?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training he or she may need?

  • The individual’s preferred work style:
  • Is the person independent?
  • What do they want from their job?
  • What are their long-term goals and interests and how does this align with the task proposed?
  • The current workload of the individual:
  • Does the person have the capacity to take on more work?
  • Will delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

Delegating the Task Correctly:

To ensure that you can delegate correctly, there are a few basic principles you should keep in mind while assigning tasks to your team. Some of these principles include:

  • Visualize the desired outcome. Begin with the end and specify the end result.
  • Clearly choose constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility, and accountability set? Should the person:

  • Wait to be told what to do?
  • Ask what to do?
  • Tell you what should be done and then act?
  • Act and report results immediately?
  • Initiate action and report the results?
  • Include the people you are delegating to in the delegation process. Encourage them to decide what tasks can be delegated to them and when.
  • Match responsibility with authority. Understand that you can delegate certain responsibilities but you can’t delegate the ultimate accountability. The buck still stops with you.
  • Delegate to the lowest organizational level. The people that are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most in-depth knowledge of the details of everyday work. It also increases workplace efficiency and develops employees for next-level roles.
  • Provide the needed support and be available to answer questions. Ensure that the task is successful by constantly communicating and monitoring as well as providing the required resources.
  • Focus on what is accomplished rather than detailing how the work should be done. Your way is not the best or even the only way. Allow the person to control his or her own methods because this means you trust them.
  • Avoid “upward delegation”. If there is an issue, don’t allow the person to shift responsibility back to you. Ask them for recommendations, don’t just provide the solutions.
  • Motivate and encourage. Inform them how success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where deserved.
  • Establish and maintain control:
  • Discuss how the task will proceed and the deadline.
  • Agree on a schedule of checkpoints at which you will review project progress.
  • Make adjustments where needed.
  • Take time to check all the submitted work.

By keeping these points in mind prior to and during the delegation process, you will see that your ability to delegate will undergo drastic improvements.

Conclusion

Choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. Once you have delegated the task to someone, give them the privilege of trust and allow them to make their own decisions around how to go about completing the task without breathing down their necks or micromanaging them. Employees feel their responsibilities most keenly when they are actually entrusted with it, and by adding trust to your delegation, you will give your team a chance to prove themselves, and grow personally and/or professionally along the way.

In the beginning, delegation can feel like more of a hassle than it is worth, however by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver.

When you distribute the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, while other people to whom you have delegated to are also working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you create win-win situations for all stakeholders including yourself, and also for your organization.

This article is authored by Federico Omarini, Talent Onboarding & Business Manager, Cegos Italia S.p.A.

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