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Delegate with Purpose

In order to manage a growing workload and move an organization forward, it is essential that the more experienced and higher level staff within an organization delegate to the less experienced staff.  People commonly struggle to delegate for various reasons, including fear of losing control, the mentality that it is easier to “just do it myself”, or simply not knowing how and when to delegate. Delegation is an actual skill that requires practice and purpose.

One of the best ways a manager can develop an employee is through delegation. Delegation can not only develop business relationships, but can also allow managers to focus on more strategic and non-redundant tasks. Below are some recommendations and tips for effective delegation:

When/What to Delegate

Determining which tasks to delegate is often the hardest part. Develop a habit of regularly asking, “Should or could someone else do this task?” Identifying these opportunities is the first step and small, recurring tasks are often a great place to start.

Assigning these redundant tasks will allow the employee the opportunity to master the task in a fair timeframe. It is important to start small and give the employee time to learn, without giving them the opportunity to ruin the project or have a major negative impact on the business.  The hardest part for many managers is letting go of tasks that he or she have done for a long time, and this gradual build up will help develop trust with the delegation process.

Pick the Right Person

Upon determining what to delegate, selecting the right person to complete the task is vital. Think about who has the experience, skill set and time to learn the task.  Does it give the employee an opportunity to learn a new skill? Will it provide him or her a cross-training opportunity or access to a new client or business unit? If it is not clear who to delegate to, asking employees for their opinion often helps solve the issue. Employees are often the ones that are most in-tune with who should be handling what tasks and who is capable of doing so.

How to Delegate

There are a few key things to keep in mind when actually delegating work:

  • Clearly define the project or task, the steps involved, and the desired result.
    • What are the expected results?
    • When is your deadline?
    • Is there a specific way the employee needs to complete the task?
    • Why was this employee chosen for the task? Give them a sense of ownership and pride in the work.
    • What issues/obstacles might they incur? Set them up for success by communicating known failure paths to help the employee avoid wasting time and energy.
    • Is there a mid-term check-in point when the employee should communicate back to the manager so that progress can be assessed?
  • Be available for questions or concerns.
  • Avoid delegating when there is a time crunch. This creates undue stress and does not provide a good training ground.
  • Put full trust in the person chosen. He or she was selected for a reason and it is important they are given the opportunity to complete the task successfully.
  • Avoid reverse delegation. In order for employees to learn, it is important that they are given the opportunity to make mistakes. Encourage accountability among team members and try not to take the task back after it has been offloaded. Taking the task back after delegating it is a sure sign of management failure!

With delegation, the short-term time investment pays off in the long-term when employees are getting more exposure, developing new skills, and ultimately allowing managers to do more important and valuable things for the company. The best managers effectively delegate the right tasks to the right people and leverage the team’s cumulative skill set to achieve the best results.

If your Company is interested in learning more about developing employee and leadership skills, contact a member of the EctoHR Team today at 810-534-0170 or!

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