How Well Are You Delegating Tasks?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Managers often feel overwhelmed by the number of outstanding projects on their to-​do lists. An organized and methodical manager can put order into chaos by delegating tasks. First, they should develop a vision for what will be done and who will do it. Second, they need to pay attention to the ‘moment of assignment.’

The Who of Delegating Tasks

At Three Star Leadership, Wally Bock recently discussed his three variables of delegation. His first variable centers on people. Once you decide what must be done, think about the members of your team. Who has the capability to handle the work? Remember to delegate tasks to team members who possess the right skill sets and the right mindset. When you need to verify balances in a downloaded bank statement against the company's internal accounting system, you'll want to give the job to an employee who enjoys working with numbers and is detail-oriented.

If your best numbers person is overwhelmed with other projects, you may need to develop other team members to be ready to step in. You could give the project to a staffer who’s indicated interest in trying something new. If you hand the project to an inexperienced team member, be prepared to offer support and encouragement. This management task will draw on your time and talents. But if you're committed to developing team member skills, you must make the training and coaching investment.

Another way to ensure success is to understand that team member's work traits. Ask your entire team to take psychometric assessments. Assessments results will show you which team members have specific work strengths, such as the potential to become a manager.

The How of Delegation

The success of a delegated project comes down to how well you, the manager, gives instructions. In one training session I attended recently, executive coach, Jan Allen of Business of People, encouraged us to concentrate on the 'moment of assignment.' Receiving an assignment, from an employee’s perspective, resembles meeting someone for the first time. You can make a positive impression, and build the employee’s excitement, by showing the right attitude. Stay positive and upbeat. Explain that the project will help them grow.

When you assign the work, be specific. Keep your top-​level instructions brief. State the expected outcome. If the project has multiple parts, advise the employee to write them down. Your goal is to make sure the employee understands the task you’re delegating. Not everyone will come into your organization understanding how to sell your products. If you want them to succeed, you'll need to explain that they first need to look for prospects. Once they find a solid prospect, the next step is discovery. Your employee must learn how your product will help the prospect. At that point, they can prepare and presentation and explain the benefits the prospect will gain by purchasing the product. Only then should your employee get into a discussion of pricing and purchase negotiations.

Successful delegation helps you get projects finished on time and on budget. When you get it right, your employees will develop confidence and skills. The organization will benefit, and your employees will be loyal to you and your organization.