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Delegation

Learning to accomplish things through others is an imperative part of effective leadership. That is essentially what delegation is. In a work setting, delegation typically means the transfer of responsibility for a task from a manager to a worker. Sometimes an employee will volunteer to take on an expanded role.Delegation can also happen among peers. For example, a person who has been designated as a leader of a team might delegate tasks to peers in the group.Delegation of duties does not necessarily imply a transfer of responsibility. The manager will still review the actions taken to accomplish this task, and provide guidance, because the buck always stops with the manager.Being able to delegate is important for a supervisor or manager. In order to lead and multiply our impact, we must learn how to delegate well.What to Delegate: The first step to delegating is to determine what you should delegate. You make of list of everything you do: every task, meeting, communication, project. Then divide them into three categories:

  • Stop doing. You can almost always find things you can stop doing, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re not essential.

  • Others could do. You’ll be tempted to think about who could do each thing. Don’t do that. You can’t limit your answer to who is available now.

  • Only I can do. You should have very few items here. They are part of your role and the aspects nobody else can do.

Immediately stop doing the things on that list, and prioritize the others could dolist.Who gets my list? If you knew for sure, you would have delegated already. But there are always more good people available than we think. Before thinking about specific people, classify the type of item you’re delegating. Ask yourself, “Is this a task or it this an authority?”Craig Groeschel explains the difference: “When we delegate tasks, we create followers. When we delegate authority, we develop leaders.” Whom you delegate to will be determined by that choice.Now you are ready to delegate, but there are a couple of obstacles that tend to stop us:

  • Delegating takes more work up front than simply doing it ourselves. We often don’t delegate simply because we feel like it’s just easier to jump in and get the work done ourselves rather than take the time to get started. Every parent knows it. It’s easier to clean the room than have them do it. When you do the work up front, the payoff is having more time than you had before.

  • We drop the responsibilities on people and walk away with inadequate training, understanding, or help. You do the work up front, get the items ready, and people will be excited to succeed. If you don’t, people will get frustrated or discouraged and quit.

  • We are afraid the person we delegate to will not do it well enough. You must decide ahead of time that you are okay with it being done 80% less that it was before, and done differently as well.

When you make those decisions, you can take action and multiply your leadership.Create process documents. Delegating well is preparing well. Create a step-by-step outline of what is needed to complete the process; a document that anyone can follow. Give them freedom to improve on the process. Or, you can document the why and the what, and let them figure out the how.Get clear! Make doubly clear WHAT you are delegating and to WHOM.Give it Away! Find the people, hand it off, and if they say “no,” ask someone else. You will eventually find someone for everything, which will give you more time for what only you can do.To make delegation part of your leadership package, work to develop these skills.

  1. Communication:Managers need to be able to communicate clearly. They have to explain why an employee has been assigned a task, what the task is, and what the expectations are. You need to listen to any questions or concerns of your employee, and make sure he or she understands your expectations.

  2. Giving Feedback: You are still responsible to make sure the goals are met. Check in and back. Provide clear feedback on what they did well, what they struggled with, and why. This is what helps them grow.

  3. Time Management: You need to give clear deadlines and hold the employee accountable. This also requires that you plan out whom to delegate to well in advance. All of this requires organization and time management.

  4. Training and Assessment of Tasks: Make sure your person has the skills and abilities necessary to perform the task. You might need to train them.

More than just about anything else, work on developing trust. A good manager trusts the skills of his or her employees. She lays out clear expectations and provides feedback, but she does not micromanage. Trust is key to effective delegating.So how do you avoid the extremes and make delegation work for you? Create a culture of development. Believe they can do it, and help them learn and grow. John Maxwell says in his book, The Law of the Lid, that leadership ability determines effectiveness. When we go solo, we put a lid on what can happen, because it all depends on us. However, Maxwell says that if we can lead others, the lid is raised, and our potential is only limited to our leadership ability.That means effective leadership must include delegation.

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