It’s normal for managers to have a seemingly endless list of often-conflicting tasks and responsibilities, and it may feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Learning to rely on your team is a key management skill. Delegation can bring down your stress levels, build trust and loyalty with your subordinates, and ultimately boost productivity. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Delegation?
Delegation is the art and science of assigning responsibilities to your team members. But many managers get tripped up by one of two things: either they’re reluctant to delegate at all, or they simply fire off task lists without context. Successful delegation has three key elements, all of which must be in place:
- Authority: As a manager, you have authority over your team. Make sure you use this authority wisely, by assessing each person’s skills, providing training as needed, and giving your team members the context and tools they need for success.
- Responsibility: Be sure to pass on responsibility for the task to the person to whom you delegate it. This means placing your trust in your team members to get the job done and avoiding micromanaging.
- Accountability: Accountability goes both ways. It’s reasonable to expect your employees to be accountable to you for their tasks, including providing regular updates and meeting agreed-upon deadlines. But you also have to be accountable to them. Provide a thorough description of the task and how it fits into the larger project. Make yourself available to answer questions or provide help.
What to Delegate
Every manager is different, so you will need to decide which tasks it makes the most sense to delegate. In general, though, duties that fall into these three categories are typically good candidates for delegation:
Most of the time, it makes sense for managers to focus on the strategic processes that can help grow the company, while delegating many of the daily operational tasks. For example, you probably don’t want to delegate interviewing job applicants, but you could delegate the tasks of organizing HR files and entering applicant data into your database.
Duties You Hate
Every job comes with responsibilities that you just don’t like, and now that you have paid your dues, it’s okay to pass off some of these duties to your team members. Just be careful not to overload someone else with tasks she hates. Try asking for volunteers rather than simply assigning drudgery tasks.
Things That Aren’t Your Strengths
Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Just because you’re a manager, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically good at everything. If math was your least successful subject, but one of your employees is a numbers whiz, take advantage of the opportunity to fill in the gap. Your entire team will benefit from fitting the right people to the right projects.
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