by Su-Mari Du Bruyn on 18/01/13 at 8:15 am
Many people are averse to delegation – clinging to the notion that doing it yourself is the only way to get it done right. I have however never come across someone who is averse to effective delegation. When done right it is a powerful tool to develop individuals, promote team work and improve your own efficiency.
Another myth around delegation is that it will be quicker if you do it yourself than to delegate to somebody else. Although this may be true for right now, the next time that the same task needs to be executed again, you have to do it again as well, whereas if you had shown another individual once how to perform this task, you would never have to be burdened with it again. Effective delegation is at times a case of short term pain for long term gain. Also consider the message you are sending to the rest of your team if you never seem to trust them to do anything and instead try to do it all yourself.
For many people it is a foreign concept to think of delegating as “asking a favour” rather than giving an instruction, but what these people underestimate is how much more powerful it is when someone wants to help you rather than has to help you. This does not mean that you have to beg for someone to help you. Getting someone’s buy in can be achieved by explaining to the team member why you think they are the best person for the particular job or what they can learn from performing the task.
So how do you delegate effectively?
Be as specific as you possibly can.
- What is the desired end result? If it is a report, in what format do you want it? Is there a specific template that should be used? What information absolutely has to be included in the report?
- By when do you want it (date and time)?
- How regularly do you want to be updated on the progress? What information should be included in the update?
- What constitutes falling behind? What should the person do when they start to fall behind? If you know in advance that someone is starting to fall behind on a critical project, you still have time to try and do something about it. Be careful how you react when someone comes to you to let you know that they are falling behind. By reacting negatively your reaction can cause people to hide potential issues from you in future because they fear your response and hope that they can fix things before you even find out. This will be robbing you of the opportunity to take corrective action and ensure that the deadline can still be met.
- Encourage people to become their own problem solvers. Do not do their thinking for them – ask them to provide at least two to three potential solutions whenever they highlight a problem to you and if these are not acceptable solutions, explain to them why, so that they understand. Your explanation may even lead them to think of another solution. Rather ask questions leading them to discover a feasible answer themselves.
Distinguish between what is necessary and what is merely a personal preference
- When you delegate a task you have to leave some opportunity for an individual to impress you with their creativity and unique approach. It may (for example) be necessary to reflect expenditure by department, but whether that is done via a pie or bar graph does not matter and neither does the colours used. When you delegate you should only specify the things which are necessary and learn to let go of the rest.
Always follow up with a review.
- Whether the task was completed perfectly, on time and with huge success or not, you should always follow it up with a review so that you can discuss what worked and what didn’t work and how you can improve the next time. As important as it is in this discussion to give feedback, it is even more important to receive it. This is a valuable opportunity to identify what you need to work on going forward to delegate more effectively.
- It is of critical importance that you acknowledge the contributions made by those you have delegated tasks to. Thank them individually for the work that they have done, but also acknowledge their contribution in front of others. It is very demotivating when you have worked incredibly hard at something only to have your boss take all the credit for himself. The majority of people will naturally work even harder when they know that their contribution is recognized.
Effective delegation is a skill that needs to be practiced and continuously improved upon. If things do go wrong and what you receive on the deadline is not what you needed, reflect upon your contribution to the misunderstanding first. What did you neglect to specify? Were you perhaps too restrictive? Did your behaviour or reactions discourage open and honest communication?
If you are still not convinced to give it a try, remember that when you take a chance on someone by delegating a task to them, you have at least a 50% chance of them exceeding your expectations and saving you the time of having to do it yourself. A large amount of what you have learned probably came from someone taking a chance on you once… Why not pay it forward and give someone else that chance as well?
Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of the company Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Recently Su-Mari launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on Amazon.com for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement. It shares proven methodology and highlights important do’s and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results. Adapt To Change are Continuous Improvement and supply chain experts who specialize in assisting companies and entrepreneurs in and around Cape Town. The team has more than 50 years’ experience in helping businesses reduce costs, adapt to change and show growth. Su-Mari is available on LinkedIn or via the Adapt To Change website www.adapttochange.co.za. View more articles by Su-Mari Du Bruyn.
- Effective Measure Debuts As Red Herring Asia Top 100 winner
- Effective Measure Accelerates South African Expansion With New Country Managing Director
- Effective Leadership & Personal Energy
- Friday Giveaway: Win a UCT Effective People Management course!
- 1 Min with a superhero: Mandy Ross on effective event management