How to delegate effectively

Whilst there are hundreds of traits and qualities that go into being a good manager, one vital ability is knowing how and when to delegate tasks.

At its core, delegation is simply the sharing of a workload between a team based on the experiences and skills of the individual team members. In practice, it makes complete sense and any true leader will recognise the importance of being able to delegate effectively in order to improve both efficiency and productivity. However, we meet so many managers and team leaders that, despite recognising the importance of delegation, still struggle with it on a daily basis.

As training course providers for management staff, we decided it would be useful to put a post together discussing some of the most effective delegation techniques you can employ today and to touch on a number of the attitudes we come across that can hold back effective delegation. If you’d like to learn more about delegation and work with our experienced coaching team, please get in touch.

Beating the “I can do it better” attitude

This is probably the most common objection to delegating work, and is especially prevalent amongst new managers.

The “I can do it better” attitude will only hold back a team from progressing and developing. And ultimately, a new manager won’t last long if they can’t fully utilise the team around them.

It can be difficult to do, but the solution is really simple: trust in the abilities of the team and allow them the freedom to complete work independently. For junior members of the team, sit down with them to schedule in the work you want completing, make it clear what you’re looking to achieve from the work, and – if necessary – schedule in a catch up for once they’re done to go through the work and provide constructive feedback on what they’ve done well and where it can be improved.

For senior members of the team, let them crack on in the knowledge that they know what they’re doing. Check in casually to make sure they’re okay and to see if they need any support, but avoid trying to micro-manage them.

Learn the skillsets of your team

It’s very easy to get delegation wrong. All it takes is for a manager to assign tasks based on current workloads, i.e. giving new tasks to team members that have the least on their plate.

Whilst this ensures that everyone is busy, it may mean team members aren’t as productive or even as challenged as they could be. Tasks should be assigned based on the skills, strengths and weaknesses of each team member – so it’s important as a manager that you come to recognise and identify an individual’s range of skills.

This doesn’t necessarily mean always assigning the tasks to the person with the most experience and skills. It’s about recognising the potential for growth in junior team members too, so that you can set them work that will help them achieve that potential.

Knowing when and what to delegate

Once you understand the skillsets of your team, and you have the confidence and trust in your team to delegate tasks, you then need to know when and what you should delegate. We quite often meet managers that know the importance of using their team and have no issues with doing so, but simply don’t know when they should be delegating work.

When facing this dilemma, there are two questions to ask yourself that can help clarify the situation:

  • “Could someone else do this work to a good standard?”
  • “If I didn’t have to do this work, would I be free to work on something more important and valuable?”

If the answer to both questions is ‘yes’, then you know the skillset to do the task exists within your team and you can be having a bigger impact elsewhere. This is the perfect point at which to delegate a task.

Even if you can only answer ‘yes’ to the first question, you should still consider delegating the work. This can free your time up to complete any admin or smaller pieces of work that you’ve been putting off, or give you the time to see how other team members are getting on.

Final thoughts

We hope the above tips help you to delegate more effectively in the future. Delegation is an important part of being a manager, and the best leaders in any field know the value of using their team and how to do it.