If you are completely overwhelmed by too many work hours, the constant emails and texts, and a growing pile of projects and problems, there is a very good chance that your stress level is connected with a failure to delegate. By learning to delegate - entrusting a task or responsibility to someone else who is equipped to do it - you can lower your stress level and also show your team that you have confidence in them.
Don’t let any of these seven reasons be your excuse as to why you don't delegate. Not delegating will have a poor effect on both you and your team! Here are ten steps to help you start.
1. Hire people who are trustworthy and train them to the point that you have confidence in them.
If you ever lack confidence in a staff member to whom you should be delegating, ask yourself, why? Did you hire the right person? Did you provide them training and opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills needed? Did you give them a chance to prove themselves? Did you give them coaching if they were failing?
2. Identify five tasks or projects you should not be doing but are important enough to be done.
This is hard for those of us who have become so accustomed to doing certain tasks that we no longer even think about it. However, once you get through identifying the first five tasks, you will likely have more that easily come to mind. Remember, delegation is not only about which tasks to give away, it is also about which ones to keep!
Answering the following questions may help you:
- What do you do best?
- What do you do that others cannot?
- What few things must be done exclusively by you?
Remember, not everything should be delegated and delegation is NOT a way to give you more time to play, loaf, or be lazy! It should give you more time to add value to your organization's vision and your personal health and effectiveness.
3. Identify the best people you have to do each of the designated projects or tasks.
If you feel you have no one, it is a sign that you have not succeeded at Step 1! Go back to Step 1 and accomplish it!
4. Provide your employee with clear explanations, expectations, and authority regarding the project or task.
What do you want? When do you want it? What parameters or boundaries must they follow? Delegation often fails because the expectations were not clear on the front end. Now, let go, and let them lead! Ask them if they are confident in being successful with the task, and if not, what it will take to become confident.
5. Provide them with regular accountability and feedback.
This type of regular monitoring is done by communicating your expectations for project updates and completion dates. No deadline often means no completion! Also, give feedback on how they are doing and agree to which communication methods you prefer for staying informed. These can include: e-mail, written updates, shared computer files such as DropBox and Google Docs, regularly scheduled meetings, and informal meetings.
6. Do not allow the task to be given back to you!
Sometimes people like to practice "reverse delegation."Reverse delegation is when you ultimately end up with the task back in your bin. Do not allow that to happen. Your employee needs to walk away with the project, and the project needs to remain with them, not you. Remember, only jump back in when absolutely necessary.
7. Trust them to be successful.
Provide encouragement and support to let them know that you are confident in them. Sometimes we can unintentionally send a message of doubt that causes people to live up to our lack of trust by losing confidence in themselves and failing. In other words, don’t interfere without a very good reason.
8. Don’t expect the task to be done exactly the same way you would do it.
This is not realistic and does not leave room for the task to be done in perhaps an even better way.However, it is realistic to expect that it be done to a reasonable standard and that standard should have been clearly defined in Step 4.
9. If you feel they are not succeeding, test your assumptions.
Meet with them for an update. Determine if you communicated clear expectations and provided them with the resources to do it successfully. Also, determine if your expectations regarding the timing, deliverables, and methods are realistic. Do not take the task back, but rather coach them to do it again and to succeed.
10. Celebrate success with them by giving both private and public recognition.
Such acknowledgment will build their confidence for future projects. People pay attention to what leaders recognize and celebrate.
By delegating to your team, you are showing them that you believe in their abilities. But now that you are passing projects on to them, this doesn’t mean that you are useless. There will still always be difficult cases which will require your expertise. Delegating will free your mind and give you time to focus on the really important matters and will also give your team the freedom they need to grow.
Jay is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.