7 Ways to Improve Delegation and Take Some Tasks Off Your Plate

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Were you the student in school who took responsibility for all parts of a group project? Maybe it was difficult for you to trust anyone to do the job well. Today, now that you’re a manager, do you find yourself in the same pickle? You have plenty of employees that report to you, but letting go of office tasks may still feel difficult. You’ve realized that you need to improve your delegation skills.

Office life isn’t like school. Basically, everything at work is a group project. If you’re going to avoid burnout — and make your employees feel useful — you must learn to delegate. It can feel strange at first to hand over some control. Follow these tactics, though, and you’ll get more comfortable with letting go.

1. Manage the work.

Doing this is in your job title — after all, you are the manager. In today’s work environment, especially after the pandemic, doing this successfully looks different. With people working from home or in remote offices, you may want to turn to project management software for help. These tools can help you improve your delegation, and keep your team focused, on task, and on time for project completion.

The best project management software should give your employees flexibility to work during their peak hours. Not everyone does their best work over morning coffee — some hit their productivity stride at 4 p.m. Look for tools that make it easy to stay organized, keep a steady routine, and minimize distractions. Don’t forget you’re a manager, though. Find a tool that allows for clear, concise reporting, too.

2. Find someone who does the task better.

Just because you’re the manager doesn’t mean you’re the master of all tasks in the office. You have plenty of talented people on your staff. No matter the task, there will be times when one or more of your employees can do it better. As the leader, choose what’s best for the company and delegate the job.

Assigning these types of tasks can bring several benefits. Most importantly, it puts the most appropriate person in the job. It also keeps the wheels of productivity going — you won’t get overwhelmed by too much work. Lastly, it shows your employees you see and value their skills. That’s a triple win!

3. Consider your employees’ skills and ambitions.

Sure, you will have some employees who come to the office, do their work, and clock out on the dot. You’ll also have a few others who reveal a more ambitious spirit. Look for employees who are actively working toward goals. They present opportunities for you to improve delegation and encourage responsibility. Plus, they’ll make great productivity partners.

In these situations, identify the strengths your employees have. Their strong points will tell you which responsibilities to assign. Does one of your staff want management experience? Offer to let them supervise the intern you hired for the summer. Taking charge gives your employee a chance to grow new skills, and it encourages them to stay engaged at work.

4. Provide resources and authority.

Effectively delegating a job involves more than merely assigning it to someone else. Be sure you also give your employee the resources they need to do the job well. If they need specific training or added authority to fulfill the task, make sure they get it.

If you’re handing over that much control, though, you’ll also need to practice restraint. Resist the temptation to micromanage. Once you put your employee at the helm of a project, it’s theirs, not yours. Don’t stick your head in their office to offer “helpful” how-to advice. As long as the project is on-time and on target, let your employee spread their wings. Your job is to offer help when and where it’s needed.

5. Communicate clearly.

Sidestepping micromanagement is important — so is setting up clear, open communication. When you delegate a responsibility, your employee should feel comfortable asking you questions and providing updates. After you assign a task, you can’t “set it and forget it.” You’re still going to be involved on some level.

Perhaps it’s a weekly Friday afternoon face-to-face call or meeting. You can discuss progress, and your employee can raise any outstanding issues. If the project is smaller, your communication channel could be a simple weekly email. Work with your employee to identify the best way for you to keep tabs on progress without overshadowing their work.

6. Provide proper motivation.

For some employees, a new project is enough to get excited. Others may need a bit more motivation to max out their productivity. As their manager, providing that extra oomph is your job. Dangling a few carrots can inspire your staff to kick their work into high gear.

A monthly performance evaluation is a simple way to do this. Take a quick look over what gets accomplished every month and recognize the employees who go above and beyond. Those employees working hard will feel seen and appreciated. Others could feel encouraged to put more effort in.

7. Be open and be OK with failure.

When you delegate a responsibility, you open the door for new and different ideas. Your employee’s suggestion may not be the way you’d do something, but that’s OK. Don’t shut them down. Consider their recommendation, and if it’s a good one, go with it!

That said, sometimes things won’t go to plan. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re used to handling things your way. It’s important, though, to leave room for failure. It might mean starting over or changing courses for a project. Your employees learn and grow during the process. They may also be laying a foundation for smarter, streamlined future work.

As a manager, much of your job is heading up your department or office. One of your most important responsibilities is helping your employees grow. That requires you to delegate responsibility. If you struggle with assigning tasks, give these strategies a shot to help you improve your delegation skills. Pretty soon, you could feel more comfortable with handing over some control.

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