6 Tips for Effective Delegation

There are many people that would rather over-work themselves than delegate a task. Either it’s just easier, or they don’t trust someone else to do it right, or they feel like they’d just end up having to fix someone else’s work. That’s just an excuse. As a business owner, you can not do it all – and you shouldn’t even contemplate it. Delegation is an extremely important aspect of business leadership and should be used whenever possible.

Delegating isn’t just about giving work to someone without any, and it’s also not about off-loading any old task you don’t have time to do. Successful delegation takes a little bit of work, a little bit of planning, some time invested in training .. but it is well worth it in the end.

Here are six tips to help you get more done through effective delegation.

1. Make sure you plan ahead

There is nothing more annoying than a team member waiting until the day before a deadline to flag that they need help on a task. Everyone in the team suddenly finds themselves in an awkward position, and sometimes there just isn’t the time to get everyone caught up on what needs to get done. It’s stressful, aggravating, and can sometimes make you “that person.” Don’t be that person.

The key is to never get to the point where you are that person. Always examine tasks ahead of time and consider if you will be needing help for any part of it. If you do, flag it early, so that others know that a delegated task may be on its way to them.

2. Delegate the right tasks

There are some tasks that simply cannot be delegated to others. They’re either too variable, too high-value, or you need lots of training or background information to do them. These are the tasks that you hold on to, while letting the more simple tasks go. Recurring tasks that are simple in nature are great to delegate, as once you’ve trained someone, they can always take that task from you.

3. Give examples of completed work

One of the best ways to help someone succeed at a delegated task is to show them the end result you’re wanting. It’s easier to problem solve if you have a framework for reference, or something you can try to emulate. Some details can only be shared in this visual way.

If there’s no previous example of the work you’re delegating, you can always share videos, drawings, sketches, rough drafts, or mock ups. Anything that can give perspective to someone new to the task will be helpful in getting them to the right end result.

4. Don’t delegate at random

This is a big one. Every person in your team, virtual or in house, has a different strength. They will be most productive if you assign tasks to them that match those strengths. Avoid delegating work that doesn’t fit the skill sets of your team members. Good leaders find positive ways to develop their team — ways that don’t include stressing them out by asking them to do something that they aren’t fit to do.

5. Manage expectations

When delegating a task, be extremely clear on what you expect and what the finished product should look like. You must give people details when assigning them a task, or you might find that they are on a totally different page to you. By then, it might be too late to fix the problems and make a deadline.

If you delegate a task to someone and they come back to you with completely the wrong design or idea, that’s not necessarily their fault. Having someone verbally confirm the details of a task back to you, that they believe you want in the end product, can be a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

6. Don’t “Delegate Dump”

Sometimes referred to a “Tommy Gun Delegation,” where you send a large quantity of tasks all at once (just like a Tommy Gun spewing bullets). This does no one any good and only harm comes of it. At best, it may initially alleviate your stress, however as questions for each task and dialog arises, you will be inundated and stressed all over again.

Delegate a small amount of tasks to begin, plan to have questions come back at you, plan to have the time to answer those questions or provide training, and plan of having time to review the work completed. It’s not just about getting it done – it’s about getting it done right.

If you remember these six tips, you should hopefully avoid unnecessary stress and disappointment when you delegate. Delegation is an important teaching tool, as well as a good time management tool. It should not be avoided or deemed “too hard.”

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

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