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Becoming a people manager brings its share of challenges, and mastering the art of delegation is one of the most crucial leadership skills to develop. It’s not just about offloading tasks; it’s about empowering your team to shine and freeing up your calendar for those big-picture endeavours.

The leap from doer to delegator can seem intimidating at first. But here’s the good news – delegation is a skill that can be honed with practice. In this article, we’re dishing out 10 essential tips that will transform you into a delegation pro, ensuring everyone on your team plays a part in the exciting projects ahead.

Delegation As a Leader

Delegation isn’t just about sharing the load; it’s about strategically placing tasks in the hands of the right team members. It’s a skilful play where you align tasks with individual strengths and interests, paving the way for a more dynamic and skilled team. When you delegate effectively, you’re not just crossing off items on your to-do list but fostering a culture where team members thrive on new challenges.

Delegation is a catalyst for growth: it empowers your team, fuels employee satisfaction, and can even be a financial game-changer. In fact, a Gallup report highlights that top-tier delegators can see up to a 33% increase in revenue. They’re the orchestrators who amplify their team’s abilities, leading to heightened morale, improved productivity, and substantial company growth.

Why Managers Shy Away from Delegating

The journey from hands-on doer to strategic delegator isn’t always straightforward. Many managers, especially those at the helm for the first time, might hesitate to delegate tasks for various reasons. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Some managers worry that explaining a task could take longer than doing it themselves.
  • Others may hold onto tasks like a treasure trove of exclusive knowledge, fearing they’ll become less crucial to the team.
  • There’s also the guilt of piling onto someone else’s workload, the doubt in the team’s abilities, or the simple belief that no one can match their execution.
  • The reluctance could even stem from a misunderstanding of the task’s priority or a personal desire to stay engaged with interesting projects.

Recognising these roadblocks is vital because the failure to delegate swamps your schedule with an unsustainable workload and stunts your team’s development.

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Identifying Opportunities to Delegate Tasks

Determining the perfect moment to pass the baton of a task isn’t always clear-cut. It’s not a one-size-fits-all process but rather a strategic decision that can benefit the entire team. Consider these questions to determine if a task is a good candidate for delegation:

  • Does this task naturally fit into another team member’s goals?
  • Do I have the capacity to delegate this task meaningfully, providing support and feedback as needed?
  • Who else is equipped with the know-how to tackle this job?
  • Could this task be a growth opportunity for someone on the team?
  • Is this a recurring task that someone else could eventually own?
  • Can I spare the time to delegate this properly, meaning guiding, mentoring, and quality checking?
  • If things don’t go as planned, do we have a buffer to refine and redo if needed?

Remember, you don’t need to check off every question with a ‘yes’ to delegate a task. It’s about weighing these aspects to make a strategic choice.

Delphinium’s Top 10 Tips for Delegating Tasks

Learning to delegate work makes you a better manager and allows your team members to get involved in exciting projects. Try these 10 tips to get started with the delegation process:

1.   Play to People’s Strengths

When delegating tasks, it’s important to consider your team members’ unique abilities and interests. Assigning tasks that match peoples’ skill sets, interests and professional goals will increase the likelihood of excellent performance and also contribute to job satisfaction and personal development.

2.   Clear Communication

When delegating, ensure you communicate clearly. Be explicit about what the task entails and the results you expect. Ensure that the person taking on the task understands the objectives, deadlines, and the scope of their decision-making power. Clear communication prevents misunderstandings and sets up your team members for success.

3.   Provide The Necessary Resources

Ensure that the person you’re delegating to has access to the tools, resources, and information necessary to complete the task successfully. Equipping your team with the required resources is crucial. This includes access to information, training, software, and any other materials or support they may require. By removing barriers, you enable them to complete the task efficiently and effectively.

4.   Establish Checkpoints

Set up regular check-ins to monitor progress, offer guidance, and adjust as needed without micromanaging. By defining milestones and check-in points throughout the task’s timeline, you can gauge progress and address any issues early on while giving team members space to work independently.

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5.   Empower Decision-Making

Give team members the autonomy to make decisions within the scope of their delegated tasks to foster trust and independence. Allowing employees to make decisions about their work empowers them. It can also lead to innovative solutions and increased ownership over the outcome. Clearly outline which decisions they can make and provide guidance on how to approach more complex decisions.

6.   Offer Support and Training

Provide training or mentorship opportunities if a task requires new skills or knowledge. This investment prepares the team member for the current task and future challenges, contributing to their professional growth.

And remember, training and mentoring responsibilities don’t necessarily need to be added to your to-do list. Consider whether there is someone in the team or possibly in another department who can help upskill people in your team.

7.   Feedback Loop

Create a two-way feedback loop where you can provide constructive feedback, and the team member can share their experiences and ideas. This helps in refining skills (of both parties), making any necessary course corrections, and improving future delegation strategies.

8.   Recognise and Reward

Always take a moment to recognise your team members’ hard work and achievements when they successfully complete delegated tasks. This appreciation should extend beyond successful outcomes; it’s equally important to recognise the courage it takes to step outside one’s comfort zone and embrace new responsibilities.

Such recognition can be showcased in various ways, ranging from verbal praise in front of peers during team meetings to material tokens of appreciation. This practice not only affirms positive actions but also serves as a powerful motivator for the entire team.

9.   Learn to Let Go

Trust your team’s capabilities and resist the urge to take back control unless it’s absolutely necessary. This trust can be pivotal in developing their confidence and your ability to focus on other strategic priorities.

10. Reflect and Adjust

After a task is completed, take the time to review the process and the outcomes. Discuss what worked and what didn’t with the team members and use these insights to refine your approach to future delegations. This reflection can lead to continuous improvement in your and your team’s delegation process.

When it comes to people management, the ability to delegate effectively is pivotal—it’s a strategic tool for empowerment and organisational growth. These 10 tips provide a blueprint for enhancing your delegation skills, a key competency in leadership.

Transitioning from a hands-on role to one that effectively delegates can be daunting, but by overcoming the barriers to effective task delegation, you can prevent work overload and encourage team development.

If you’d like to discuss how Delphinium can further support you in developing your delegation skills, contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.

Author: Gemma Rolstone | Published 9th January 2024.