Delegating Effectively

Delegating effectively is a sure fire way to accomplish more and help people feel like they're a vital part of any effort. Use these tips for getting prepared to entrust others with responsibilities, communicating clearly, and following up to keep projects on track.

Preparation Tips

1. Resist telling yourself that it is just easier to do it myself. It may take more time in the short term to train someone else to do a task but in the long term this will be a detrimental mindset. There are only so many tasks you can and should so yourself. Powerful leaders are always considering the long game.

2. Identify responsibilities you can assign to others. Distinguish between those jobs you need to do yourself and those you can hand off to others. Kids learn to be responsible by pitching in with household chores. A new employee might get oriented faster by taking charge of meeting logistics.

3. Appreciate the skills of those around you. Your colleagues may have the ability to complete certain jobs better and faster than you. Think in terms of what people excel at and what they like to do.

4. Remain flexible. Focus on results and give people room to approach a task in their

own way. Respect different styles of learning and working as long as the outcome is satisfactory. You may discover new methods that work better than what you've been doing in the past.

5. Budget extra time. Delegating saves time in the long run, but the first trial efforts could take longer than usual. Develop a realistic schedule and build in some leeway if it's the first time your assistant is working independently on a project.

6. Practice asking for help. If you feel hesitant about asking for assistance, practice first with some easy exercises. You could ask a librarian to help you find information or divide up weekly errands with your spouse.

Communication Tips

1. Clarify your expectations. Write out what you want to achieve to see if it sounds logical and comprehensive. Be specific about the timeline and results needed.

2. Ensure you're on the same page. One of the funniest moments in the movie "This is Spinal Tap" was when the band received an 18 inch model of Stonehenge instead of the 18 foot prop they ordered. Talk things over to be sure there's a mutual understanding of important points.

3. Share your knowledge. Help the person you're working with succeed by being generous with any information or tips you can give them based on your experience. For example, if you know a particular committee always wants to meet in the morning, let your colleague know if it could have a bearing on a task they’re completing.

4. Remain available for consultation. Many questions can arise once a person actually starts working on a project. Check in often to offer feedback and advice, especially in the early stages.

5. Encourage accountability. Assign whole projects and related decision making authority as much as possible. It helps to speed things up and people often feel more motivated when they have a sense of ownership.

Follow Up Tips

1. Schedule progress reports. Agree on a timeline for monitoring progress. That way you can avoid any unpleasant last minute surprises and have opportunities to make adjustments as needed.

2. Offer sincere praise. Reward people for a job well done. For example, you can upgrade people's job descriptions or offer them time off even if your budget prevents using financial incentives. Explain how their work makes a difference in helping your business or your household run more smoothly.

3. Expand your efforts. Evaluate your experiences so you can learn from them and become more skilled at delegating. As people assume more responsibility, you develop future leadership candidates and increase the capacity of your organization.

Everyone benefits when you learn how to get work done through others. You protect

yourself from burnout and you give other people a chance to learn and grow.

Delegating responsibilities at home or work may even generate surprising new solutions that yield better results. Use these tips to try delegating a new task today. You’ll be glad you did!


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