Delegating is the New Multi-Tasking: Best Practices for Successful Delegation

January 30, 2020 Trilby Lawless

 

Multi-tasking it out. In fact, studies show only 2.5% of the population can actually process tasks simultaneously. For the rest of us, it can lead to a 40% drop in productivity

The real secret to getting more work done is focusing your attention where it’s needed, and delegating the excess. Not to be confused with off-loading work onto others, proper delegation is using every resource on your team to the best ability, including you.

The strongest, most successful managers are able to delegate instead of drowning in their work because they trust the strength in their team. When done correctly, this can become essential to your team’s growth.

Best Practices for Delegation: 

Overcome the fear of letting go

If you read the statistics at the beginning of the post and thought “not me! I’m the 2.5%”, you may be experiencing the typical delegation fear signs. In the beginning, you could feel like delegating is losing control, or be worried that others can’t handle the work. In some cases, it may feel like a threat to your job security, or it’s simply hard to give up the work you enjoy. This is all normal, but if you don’t move past these fears you could stunt yourself in the long run. Have some faith in the process, and use the following best practices to make delegation work for you, not against you. 

Be smart about the tasks you hand off

Turn your to-do list into a priority list by ranking the tasks on your plate by the skill level required and importance. This will help you get a grasp on what’s most important for you to focus your energy on and what could be done more efficiently if delegated. For example, tasks that require a lower skill level but are of high importance are the best ones to assign to a team member. The work will get done sooner, and have the same quality. 

Know your resources

In order for delegation to work for your whole team and not just yourself, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your team’s work capacity. If you’re trying to delegate to a staff member who doesn’t have time themselves, it will slow the task down even further. Resource allocation software can help you plan your staff capacity so no one is taking on too much to start with, and then keep a real-time pulse on the bandwidth available across the team.  

Monitor from a distance 

Great management is about finding a perfect balance between hands-off and hands-on. When you’re delegating you should never abandon the project fully, this could lead to unexpected results and frustration in the end. But, you don’t want to micromanage either. To avoid this, it’s best to communicate clear check-in points and milestones you’re looking for at the beginning of the project. You then have boundaries for checking in and getting status updates, while still letting the new task owner feel in charge of their work. 

Share the purpose of your delegation

Explaining the why behind your action avoids any false perceptions about the reasoning behind your delegation, and can motivate the person who received the task to work even harder. Simply saying you’re too busy for the task makes it sound less important. Even if at the surface this is true, there is probably a more worthwhile reason behind it. You might be faced with a critical deadline, the skill set is better suited for someone else on your team, or it could be a good growth opportunity for them. Whatever it is, share it to keep your communication transparent. 

Be clear and specific 

If the task goes array, more often it's the initial directions and expectations that are to blame, rather than the person executing. If possible, meet in person or over the phone so that you can clearly explain the steps of the task and give full opportunity for clarifying questions. Once you’ve laid it all out, then step back but keep yourself available for questions.

Patience is key

There will be a learning curve, but once you get past this it will be well worth it. The more you build trust with your team and learn from each other through the process the better. Avoid what is called “reverse delegating”, where the tasks start to go off course so you end up taking it back from the person you delegated it to. While it may seem like the quickest fix, it also means it’ll likely be repeated. Be patient. Us the misstep as a learning opportunity and if needed work with the person to complete the task together. If you go this route rather than backing out, things will go more smoothly in the future. 

Last but not least, say thanks 

Gratitude goes a long way. Showing your thanks and appreciation is important no matter how small the task. It feels good for everyone to receive a positive note and recognition for their hard work. Tell them in person, write a nice email or recognize their accomplishment in front of the rest of the team. It’s a simple thing, but it can be very encouraging. 

The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with work, take a minute to reflect on these tips and start your priority list. If you’re ready to get started delegating today, check out our solution for resource allocation and planning staff capacity to take your efficiency a step further. 

 

About the Author

Trilby Lawless

Digital Content Manager

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