How to effectively delegate tasks? Whether you’re a manager in a large corporation, an entrepreneur who runs his own business, or a parent at home, delegation is a crucial skill to increase your productivity and save time on other essential tasks. If you take on too many tasks and feel ‘overwhelmed’ by it, you should think about your situation and consider delegating more often.
How To Delegate Tasks Effectively:
Delegating is, in simple terms, outsourcing work to others. It’s giving someone else responsible for doing something that was initially our responsibility. However, delegating can be difficult for some people. When delegating a task, you need to know which tasks you can delegate to others and which tasks you should do on your own, and you need to be firm and able to trust the person you delegate. Read on to find out how to get rid of any concerns about the delegation and how to effectively carry out the process of delegating work.
Appropriate mental attitude
Put your ego and personal ambition aside. A significant mental blockage in delegating tasks is that many people have an attitude that “if something is to be done well, it has to be done by yourself.”
You are not the only person in the world who can do something right. Who knows, maybe by delegating a task it will be done better and faster than you would do it yourself. This is something you should learn to accept and even strive to do.
Even if you are the only person who can do a specific task at the moment, consider investing some time in sharing knowledge or training someone who can also do this task in the future, so that you can get time for other activities.
Of course, many people are afraid of such an approach because they think it has a potential loss of influence. They prefer to keep their knowledge to themselves rather than share it with others. However, it is not the right attitude and will not bring you much benefit in the long run.
Think logically and realistically – can you do this work on your own or better delegate? You should be prepared to delegate part of your work to others. If you are a manager without delegating tasks to employees, you will not achieve the goals that your team is facing. If you are an entrepreneur, you will waste a lot of valuable time dealing with tasks you should delegate to others.
Do not view delegation and requests for help in a negative way. Many people feel uncomfortable when asking someone for help. They feel guilty about burdening other people with their tasks or feel ashamed because they think they should be able to deal with everything on their own. Don’t feel embarrassed or incompetent because you need help; you are more effective at getting help when you need it.
And stop waiting for people to come to you for tasks. Take the initiative and delegate when necessary.
Learn to trust others
If you’re afraid of delegating because you don’t think anyone can do a job as well as you do, remember two things: first, almost anyone can do an excellent job with enough practice. Second, you’re probably not as talented and great as you think you are.
When you delegate a job, you don’t just save time – you also give the person you delegate a task a chance to develop and master a new skill or face a new type of job. If you are a boss, this is one way to build your team members.
Be patient – with enough time, your assistant will probably be able to do the delegated work as well as you would. If the job is super important and there is no time for mistakes and learning, maybe you should do it yourself. However, if that’s not the case, then you should delegate the task.
Even if you are best at doing the job you plan to delegate, realize that delegating will let you do other things important to you while someone else is doing your other tasks. Focus your attention on complex, challenging, and high priority tasks. But don’t feel remorse about delegating simple, repetitive tasks when you have more important things to do.
First of all, take the first step.
The first step is the most difficult, but the most important. You have to break through and ask someone to help you. If you’re the boss, you have to tell your employee to do something.
Don’t feel bad about it – as long as you do it in a friendly and polite way, there’s nothing wrong with you. When making your request, try to be polite while keeping your request sober.
Don’t be afraid to delegate because you think you may be perceived as being rude or imposing on others. Look at it this way – how do you feel when people ask you to help and do something? Are you angry and offended at them right away? Or, on the contrary, are you ready to help someone?
Refusal is nothing personal.
Sometimes people can’t help you. It’s sad but true. This may be for a variety of reasons – most often, the person you ask for is already very busy with her work. Don’t take it too personally – just because someone can’t (or doesn’t want to) do something for you right now doesn’t mean they don’t like you.
Usually, it just means that she is busy or maybe too lazy to do it. Of course, in a situation where a subordinate boss refuses to do so, however, you will also have to expect them if you are overloading your current tasks.
If you’ve been refused, think about your options – usually, you can politely but firmly insist that you need the help of that person (who will work especially well if you’re the boss or manager), or you can try asking for help from someone else.
As a last resort, if everything fails, you can do the work yourself. But if you need help, don’t be afraid to use the delegation option. You don’t lose anything, but you can only gain from it.
Deal with the target, not the procedure.
Set clear standards and the results you expect. You can show or tell how you do it, but give a clear signal to the person you delegate to, that she can do it anyway she wants, as long as everything is done according to your assumptions and is ready by the agreed deadline.
Specifying your expectations about the final results is a wise approach as it saves you time and nerves. You want to use the time you have freed up through delegation to do something more critical without constantly worrying about your helper’s progress.
Get ready to train
You should almost always take the time to teach your helper or employee how to do the task you gave him, even if it is quite simple. Remember that processes and activities that seem simple and obvious to you may not be as simple for someone who has never had to deal with them before.
Prepare yourself not only for a short training on how to complete the task you’re assigning but also for patiently answering the questions you’ll probably have.
Treat the time you spend on training as a long-term investment that will pay off. Spending some time, in the beginning, teaching your helper how to do the task properly, you save yourself time in the future that would otherwise be spent correcting his possible mistakes.
Provide the resources needed to complete the task
You may have the resources needed to complete the task, but the person to whom the task is assigned may not have access to them. Things like password-protected data, IT system privileges, specialized equipment, and some tools may be necessary to complete the task, so make sure your helper or employee has everything they need to succeed.
Understand that your helper can only do one thing at a time
When your helper helps you, he doesn’t do his regular duties. Don’t forget that, like you, your helper probably has a tight schedule. Ask yourself – what kind of work will he have to postpone or, like you, delegate to someone to do your job?
Make sure you know the answer to this question when delegating a task to someone. This is especially important when you are a manager, and you delegate another task to an employee. Sometimes it will be necessary to redefine priorities so that the employee knows what to do first, which job is more important and which can wait.
The person you delegate, when she learns how to do a new task, can make mistakes. This is part of the learning process. Take this into account and plan it. Don’t delegate a task assuming that the person will do it correctly if they have never done it before.
If the result is not what you expected because your assistant was not able to complete the new task you gave him, it is your fault, not his.
Be supportive of your helper. Delegated work can be a great learning experience for him. When you train someone to do something, you invest. At first, this will slow you down, but as already mentioned, it will increase your and his productivity in the long run. Approach the delegation with a positive and realistic attitude.
Prepare yourself for possible difficulties.
Have an emergency plan in place, and be ready to step in if things don’t go as you assumed. Be aware of what will happen if the quality of the task is insufficient or the deadline is exceeded.
Obstacles and unexpected challenges appear all the time; whether you are at work or home, the technology sometimes fails too. Let the person to whom you delegate a task trust you that if something comes up that wasn’t planned, you will show them your understanding and help them to meet the deadline, and not immediately draw severe consequences from a possible error.
By giving the person you delegate a clear signal that they can rely on you in case of problems, you are potentially able to save time and prevent them from delaying informing you about the situation for fear of punishment.
Appreciate your helper for the results
Delegating tasks to somebody else is necessary if you are to take on more and more responsibility. Especially if you are a manager and team leader, you have to effectively delegate tasks.
However, if you delegate a task to somebody and that somebody has worked hard and achieved the desired result don’t take all the credit. This will undoubtedly hurt morale, commitment, and willingness to help in the future. Appreciate good work (1) and praise the efforts of others.
Make sure that every time you get compliments for work that someone else has worked on, you mention your helper by name, underlining his contribution to the result, so that some of the praise will also flow to him.
Remember to say, “Thank you.”
When someone does something for you, it is essential to thank them, confirm the validity of their help and let your helper know that they are appreciated. Otherwise, you may be perceived as an ungrateful person, even if you are not. Remember that people cannot read your thoughts. People more often offer help if they feel appreciated.
Simple, heartfelt thanks, such as: “I couldn’t have done it without you!” or just a simple “Thanks for your help.” can do a lot of work. If the work you did for you was particularly good, you could think of some other way to thank you, like lunch together, cinema tickets or a small gift.
How can a delegating conversation look like in a business environment?
How to formulate objectives and tasks in such a way that they are entirely understandable and readable to subordinates? How to conduct a seconding interview in a business environment?
The guidelines described above will certainly help you to delegate tasks effectively, but you can also use the delegating interview structure below. It works particularly well in the professional and business environment in the boss-employee relationship.
Describe the situation you’re currently in. Describe what’s happening, what will affect your subordinate’s work.
2. Define the objective and define the task
Define the task that will be the solution to the situation. Remember that the goal should meet the SMART criteria. Setting an achievable goal is already half the success. A useful SMART target will not only tell you where you are going, but it will also determine what is needed to get there.
Set a goal:
– Specific (concrete)
– Actionable (enabling decisions or actions to be taken or acted upon)
– Time-bound (according to needs and expectations, and specified in time).
3. Indicate the benefits
Specify what the person receiving the task will have to do with it. Address the critical needs of your subordinates.
4. Determine or work out the details of the task
What should concrete actions be taken? Indicate or discuss how to accomplish the task. What will be the priority? What has to happen as an effect, and how will this be measured? In relation to the whole task and its stages.
5. Contract and define further steps
What will you particularly appreciate about this task? What will you not tolerate? Agree with a timetable with your subordinate: What will you do? In what situations can a subordinate use your help? What should the auxiliary do immediately after the conversation? Summarise in a few points and check if you look at the same situation.
Delegating tasks is an art (2) that must be mastered by everyone who wants to be more productive and manage their time better. Without the ability to delegate, it will also be challenging to lead a team or run your own business effectively. If you don’t use delegating regularly, start doing it. See how much benefit it can bring you. Good luck with delegating!