If you want to succeed in your career as a leader, one of the skills you will have to master is the art of delegation. However, this can be a daunting enterprise at first, and it can cause anxiety and fear. Let’s go over how to delegate tasks intelligently and responsibly.
1. Keep a Positive Attitude
One of the greatest obstacles to delegating tasks is your mindset. If you believe every task should be completed flawlessly and that only you can do it, you’ll never be able to delegate tasks.
The first thing to realize is that not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes, good enough is good enough. It’s also important to understand that if you don’t train someone to do part of your work, they will never have the opportunity to become good at it, and you’ll be stuck with unnecessary work forever. Learn to trust others. People can do some of your work and, with proper instruction and practice, they may do it even better than you. Just give them a chance.
2. Be Proactive
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to delegate tasks, and don’t wait for volunteers. Keep an eye out for employees that can take on part of your work, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Be responsible when choosing what you’ll delegate, but know that a certain level of risk is often unavoidable. Don’t forget to document the lessons learned from each attempt. Review them periodically and look for ways to improve.
3. Choose what to delegate
When you’re in charge of an important task, it’s only natural for you to want to do it yourself, and that’s usually the best approach. However, tasks that are relatively simple and repetitive can—and should—be delegated, allowing you to take care of higher-level activities. Even when a recurring task is not so simple, with proper training and some patience, you can get rid of it over time. The time you invest training others to do part of your work will certainly pay off. You’ll be able to focus on strategic, high-value work, rather than ordinary daily tasks.
4. Use the right approach when delegating
If you’re uncomfortable telling people what to do, here are some tips. Be polite and keep instructions short and simple. Don’t worry about looking bossy. When your manager needs your help and makes a polite request, do you feel bad about it? Probably not. It shows your boss trusts you and believes you can do a good job. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Set clear expectations in terms of deadline and what has to be delivered, but try not to put too much pressure on your employee. Make sure the task is feasible and that they have the resources they need to take care of it. Don’t forget to follow up regularly and be supportive at all times, but avoid micromanaging.
If the person can’t help you, don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re just too busy—it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. If you’re their boss, you can let them know that you’re assigning the task to them, and if you can, help them reorganize their priorities accordingly.
5. Expect mistakes and be patient
Every job has a learning curve. If you’re assigning someone a new task, they will often make mistakes, and you have to be prepared for that. Try to anticipate and prevent them as much as possible, but do take them into account during planning, since they may lead to delays. Try to make the process a positive learning opportunity, rather than a painful experience for both of you.
Sometimes it may feel like you could save a lot of time by doing the task yourself, rather than teaching someone to do it, but in the long run, that’s far from true. The sooner you start, the sooner you will reap the benefits of delegating. As long as you choose the correct approach and the right employee to delegate to, they’ll quickly become competent and master the task.
6. Acknowledge achievements
Don’t miss the chance to praise your employee. Whenever they do a good job, show them your appreciation, and let others know about it too. A terrible mistake many managers make is to take all the credit. This only leads to frustration and disengagement. People crave recognition, and when their good work is not valued, they may even look for opportunities elsewhere.
By delegating correctly, you will have more free time to work on strategic goals, instead of spending too much of your time on low-value activities. You will also form a relationship based on mutual trust with your employees and show them that their help and skills are appreciated.
Matheus R. Chaud
I am a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker with extensive experience in translation, proofreading, editing, subtitling, and quality assurance.