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There’s an art to delegating that goes beyond the “tear the list into pieces and hand them out” method. But how do you split work up in a way that doesn’t unfairly overload anyone, gets all the work done in an optimal order and keeps your team effective?
Chances are you learned how to delegate by being delegated to. You were probably given tasks that were way out of your established skill set. You might remember being delegated the same awful task several days or weeks in a row, a time when you would have done anything to trade tasks with a different coworker.
Now it’s up to you to make appropriate delegation decisions. Here are the top things to consider to help you develop your own delegation skills:
Think about priority order.
Certain tasks are dependent on other work being done beforehand. So, your first order of business is to get a picture of what needs to be done and what’s dependent on other tasks being completed.
If you’re in a bind and need to have a few tasks done as quickly as possible, delegate for the short term, but don’t use this strategy for long periods of time. It will look haphazard, lead to confusion and frustrate your employees. Put out fires if they arise, but don’t forget to fireproof your strategy.
Arrange tasks by type.
Most businesses run by repeating specific tasks in a certain order, over and over again. Some tasks are more labor intensive than others, and some might take a long time but require less effort or expertise. There are always a handful of tasks that nobody will really want to do and some that will be favorites because they’re fun, easy or have an additional benefit.
If you are having trouble thinking about what you do all day, or what your team does all day, consider tracking your time for a week or two. It can be a challenge to make it a habit, but this experiment can be illuminating. You may discover you spend twice as much time on social media as you thought, or that you routinely complete certain tasks much faster than coworkers, or that you genuinely enjoy working on spreadsheets. You might discover a productivity lapse between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon (it’s a thing) and instead schedule a break to walk outside during this time.
Once you have a list of tasks, arrange them by type.
Consider team strengths.
Now that you have a strong understanding of what needs to be done, and in what order, it’s time to consider which employee’s skills, temperament and other factors will best suit them to take on each task.
This can be a real challenge at the beginning, so if you’re struggling to find anything you feel like you can delegate, consider breaking up each task into smaller pieces. Now consider how you could train someone to do each piece.
Employees who get to routinely use their strengths are better performers, and happier to boot. So do your best to match employee strengths with tasks that will be fulfilling for them. Don’t be afraid to experiment, too: innovation is how we get dream teams.
For tasks that nobody will be jumping for joy to do, consider what might take the sting out of having to do them. Rotating the worst of the tasks between employees can help; even though each person might dread their turn, they’ll only have to do it every once in awhile.
You’ll likely earn mega points with your team if you’re willing (and able, of course) to be in the rotation. Leaders who demonstrate respect in this way earn respect, and that often leads to deep loyalty and happier and harder workers.
Know what not to delegate.
Unless you have a manager who you trust completely to direct your company into the next growth phase, or you want to replace yourself with that person, don’t delegate hiring. You have employees, in part, so that you are free to get a bird’s eye view of your company’s function, direction, effectiveness and future. Employees are essential, and the ones who can help move your company forward are the only kind you can afford to hire.
Likewise, don’t delegate praise, recognition or appreciation. Good leaders do the hard work but also get in there and appreciate the work. If you become a specter in an ivory tower, not only will you lose touch with the day-to-day operations, but you’ll also lose the pulse of your employees. Don’t let that happen.
Delegation is an essential skill, and getting good at it can mean the difference between being the fifth-best company in your field and the actual best. Learn to let strong skills shine. As they say, many hands make light work.
December 27, 2018 at 09:12AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs