8 Tips to Improve Your Delegation Skills
- Effective delegation requires a clear understanding of individual team member strengths and weaknesses, as well as of the tasks to be delegated.
- To improve delegation skills, managers should focus on developing trust with team members, provide clear instructions, and ensure that team members have everything they need for their tasks.
- Managers can improve their delegation skills by taking a step back and letting go of their need to control everything.
The question of how to delegate effectively is one that I’ve talked about in a previous post. One thing the guide didn’t include were tips on how to improve your delegation skills.
When the time comes to delegate work to a team member, the process isn’t always the issue. It’s the mindset of the project owner, manager, or CEO. They want to do things their way, have trouble letting go of tasks, and overcomplicate simple things. In the end, fewer tasks get done, team members struggle with a huge workload, and they become burned out.
Now that we’ve talked about the importance of delegation, let’s talk about how you can delegate tasks better. There are a few key steps you need to take in order to set yourself up for success:
Break projects down into manageable tasks
Find the right people for the job
Let go of control
Use your teammates’ strengths
Trust, but verify
Let’s discuss each of the above-mentioned ways to improve your delegation.
1. Break projects down into manageable tasks
The first step to effective delegation is breaking projects down into manageable tasks. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually harder than it sounds.
The key here is to be as specific as possible when you’re assigning tasks. For example, rather than telling your team member to write a blog post, you would want to say something like “write a blog post about the benefits of delegation.”
This might seem like a small distinction, but it’s important. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your team member to complete the task and the less likely they are to make mistakes.
2. Find the right people for the job
Another important step in becoming an effective leader is finding the right people for delegated tasks. This means matching them with the right tasks, meaning they’re qualified to complete those.
For example, if you need someone to write a blog post, you would want to assign that task to a team member who is a good writer and has experience with SEO. On the other hand, if you need someone to design a website, you would want to assign that task to a team member who is a good designer and has experience with web development.
Here’s what you should consider when determining who should complete your tasks.
What experience, knowledge, and skills are required to complete the task?
If there’s some sort of experience, knowledge, or skills necessary for the task, you need to make sure the person possesses them. And if they don’t, you need to make sure you have the time and resources to give them any essential training.
For example, if you need someone to complete an email sequence for a marketing campaign, ensure the person understands what an email marketing sequence is. If not, think about teaching them the necessary skills. If they will be in a leadership role, perhaps they should earn certification in project management.
How good is this person at completing work?
Analyze the chosen person’s work style. Are they an independent worker, or do you need to keep an eye on them?
Consider the person’s long-term goals and interests. Do these work well with the project you’re planning on assigning them to, or are you causing an information overload they cannot deal with?
Does this person have a current workload?
When it comes to project management, you need to know what each team member is working on. Before delegating, ask yourself: will this new task force them to put off other responsibilities? Do you have someone else to take on their workload?
3. Include instructions
While a task might seem obvious, you need to include a set of instructions for every task you’re delegating. Be sure to include preferences, milestones and information about the deadline.
4. Set priorities
Begin developing a priority system for your tasks. This system is dependent on your expertise, your industry, and the kinds of tasks you typically need to handle. But you’ll want to create some categories exhibiting the level of effort and degree of skill your tasks demand.
Grow your industry knowledge
The category for the highest-skilled tasks will contain the tasks you need to handle on your own. Lower-skilled categories can be delegated to others. The degree of effort will show which tasks you need to delegate. An example of this is how you can assign a high-effort, low-skill task to save a lot of time on your end.
5. Let go of control
It’s difficult to let go. The act goes against many of the impulses and traits that helped you build your business in the first place, such as:
While completing work yourself might be appealing, it’s essential to learn how to let go of your need for control in situations where it’s beneficial to you and your business.
Other people on your team either have the necessary skills already or have the ability to learn them. That means learning to let go and let others take on these responsibilities can benefit you and your organization.
When you’re beginning the difficult process of letting go of control, there are a few things you can do to make it easier—both for you and for your teams:
Identify team leaders
Teams function best when they have a leader (or leaders). Letting go and delegating means that you’ll no longer be occupying this role in many of the teams within your organization.
This prospect will be much less intimidating if you know that you’re leaving the team in capable hands. To make that happen, start identifying candidates to take on the leadership role. The person (or people) you choose should be:
As you begin to let go, you’ll likely find that your business is filled with people who want to learn, grow, and ultimately take on more responsibility. This is an important realization for anyone who’s wary about letting go of control.
Giving these motivated workers access to training that will allow them to take on more responsibility is not only beneficial to the business, but also to your mental health.
If you’re someone who cares deeply about your business, it’s probably difficult to stay out of things once they come to your attention. This is a major roadblock on your path to letting go, because it often leads to nitpicking and micromanaging.
To overcome it, it’s important that you streamline communication within your business so that you hear about the things you need to know (when you need to know them). This might include:
Limiting Inter-Departmental Meetings: Inter-departmental meetings definitely have their place, but they don’t need to be common. Only people who need to be in the meeting should be there—that includes you!
Creating Priority Guidelines: Priority guidelines help your employees determine what information needs to be passed along and what information should be dealt with independently.
6. Use your teammates’ strengths
You’re the leader of your organization, meaning you need to know your workers’ strengths. Learning these individuals’ strong points and shortcomings will ultimately benefit your organization. When their potential and range of skills are known, you’ll know who you can assign certain tasks.
Consider who has the most skills relevant to the task. When you know your teammates’ strengths, shortcomings, and skill sets, assigning tasks relevant to your team members becomes an easy decision. Once you know who is best for the job, remain consistent. By delegating the same kind of tasks to the same person, that person will become better at completing those types of tasks.
7. Incorporate feedback
Feedback will help with the delegation process, and you’ll want to give and get it to improve upon your delegations. When someone does an excellent job on the task you assigned them, publicly thank them and offer praise for a job well-done. If they haven’t done a great job, provide them with constructive criticism to ensure they do better in the future.
You’ll also want to get your team members’ thoughts on your job delegating the task. This is your chance to become better at delegating. By requesting feedback, you’ll learn if you aren’t providing enough information, the task is too difficult, and more.
8. Trust but verify
After delegating a task, you need to trust the person to execute. This ensures the person can complete the task in their own way. But feel free to step in at times to check on the task. This will help you ensure everything is on track to be completed within the time frame allotted.
This can be as easy as sending a quick verification email to check on the person’s progress. By doing this, you’ll keep lines open for communication.