How to Delegate

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 6.00.40 PMLet employees know the outcome you expect and why it is important.  There is nothing more demoralizing than being given a task with no sense for why it matters.  Many managers spoon-feed projects instead of giving employees the perspective of the work they are doing.  For example: “We are going to repaint the interior columns to match the new corporate sign package and we need to clear off all the old signs and tape residue so they are prepped for the painters tonight.” sounds a great deal more reasonable than “Clear off those columns and scrape all the tape residue off them.”  Give employees context and a sense for why their tasks (however small) are important.  Without a frame of reference, delegated tasks can seem pointless.

Take time to inspect what you expect.  Delegating is not abdicating.  Your role is to hold people accountable for outcomes and then providing helpful feedback on how to deliver the outcomes more quickly, more consistently or more accurately.  Acknowledge good efforts and give people some level of safety to know they are able to improve through practice.  Conversely, be pointed and direct if work is not up to standards and repeat the training triangle with consequences, if necessary.

For managers who need to expand how much they can accomplish, the only reliable strategy is to delegate.  While delegating can feel like a loss of control, it is actually a better work balance that allows you to focus on what is critical and allows other capable people to contribute their talents more fully.

To leave behind a legacy of leadership – and not be a mere manager – delegating is essential.  With practice, you will become more comfortable delegating and your staff will recognize that you share responsibility and rewards.  It can become a way to boost productivity while keeping yourself sane.

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