A past manager gave me a word of advice that I continue to apply today: “When your team turns in a project that you delegated and it’s 90% of the way there, bless it and move on.” In other words, when a project hits the quality threshold, you need to weigh if it’s worth it to nitpick and potentially dampen your employees’ spirits. Instead, I’d suggest moving on to your next task. If you set your threshold at 100%, your employees will feel like you don’t trust them and that you’re limiting their creative freedom. The paths you and your staff take to complete a project may look different, but both can lead to success.
Leaders often struggle to accept anything less than perfection, which can lead to an internal battle of whether they should complete a task themselves or delegate it to a team member. The word “delegate” is a verb, but it isn’t something you just do, so to say. It is a skill you acquire and learn over time. It’s a competency that can be difficult to master.
Leaders worry that if they delegate and their employees fail, it will reflect poorly on them. But, if leaders take on a task themselves, they may feel overworked or experience burnout. So, how can leaders solve the ongoing battle of whether or not to delegate?
Here are ten tips to delegate the “right way:”
- Utilize Strengths and Weaknesses
Allocate resources based on your team’s strengths and weaknesses while also giving them opportunities to grow. You should build teams around skills that complement each other. Maybe there’s an early careerist interested in learning about a specific topic who would be highly motivated if they got to work on a related project.
- Don’t Micromanage
If you give a task to an employee, do not micromanage them. Instead, provide a clear communication channel with scheduled check-ins to offer feedback and ask questions. The key is making employees feel comfortable asking for help.
- Give Creative Freedom
Giving employees creative freedom opens them up to new solutions they otherwise wouldn’t have come up with, and more importantly, it lets your employees know you trust them. Research supports that giving employees the freedom to find new solutions makes them more productive, motivated, and inspired.
- Be Open-Minded
You have a way of doing things. So do your employees. When you delegate a task, take a step back and realize their path to success may look different than yours.
- Feedback Flows Both Ways
It’s good to provide constructive criticism and/or praise during and after a project is completed. But, feedback goes both ways. Ask employees to provide you with feedback, and see if there’s anything you can do to better support your team.
- Be Patient With Yourself
Delegation takes experience, effort, and patience to master. That’s why it’s important to start with delegating smaller tasks and work your way up to bigger ones. By doing so, you’ll become better at delegating and feel more comfortable doing so.
- Know Your Limits
Knowing your limits is key. You don’t want to overwork yourself to the point of burnout. Today, many leaders take on the world because that’s what they think they are supposed to do. Instead, tap into your skills and focus on what’s most important. Delegate tasks that may not be your strong suit.
- Give Plenty of Time
A common reason many leaders won’t delegate tasks is that it takes more time to teach someone than it does for the manager to complete it themselves. Be sure to take the time to teach someone a task, even if it takes more time than doing it yourself. When the same or a similar task needs to be completed in the future, you will feel comfortable delegating and have more time to focus on other priorities.
- Failing Is Okay
In a previous blog post, we’ve talked about how failing is okay. Failing is a necessary experience to learn and grow— it opens us up to solutions we wouldn’t have otherwise come up with.
- Know The Type Of Tasks To Delegate
All tasks cannot be delegated. Leaders must handle personnel matters, for instance, but there are many ongoing tasks that don’t need oversight. When delegating tasks, think about whose skills best match and if it would be a good learning opportunity for someone.
Reap The Benefits of Delegation
When you practice delegation and learn how to do it effectively, you’ll experience endless benefits. Not only will you have more success as a team, including increased communication, productivity, and time management, but it instills trust in your employees and shows you value them. You’ll have more time to focus on strategic assignments while also allowing your employees to grow and learn new skills.
I challenge you to practice delegation effectively. Remember to take small steps, be patient with yourself, and acknowledge that it’s a learning process. It’s not an easy skill to acquire, but the benefits are worthwhile.