Wikipedia tells us that, “Delegation is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. The person who delegated the work still remains accountable for the outcome of that work. Delegation is supposed to empower a subordinate to learn and to make decisions.”
Poor delegation causes frustration and confusion to all of the parties involved. Or, to say it another way: When done poorly, “It can be a living hell!” It also cheats your team out of opportunities to develop their skills, which ultimately hurts you, your team and your organization.
So how do you get started on the road to becoming an effective delegator? First and foremost, you’re going to have to break out of your comfort zone and be willing to change. After that, following these simple 6 steps will get you going in the right direction:
- Define the task. Describe clearly what the output needs to be.
- Delegate to a person with demonstrated competence.
- Explain the task clearly, in writing if necessary.
- Invite/encourage questions and feedback.
- Give a schedule and deadline for completion.
- Periodically inspect what you expect.
A warning: The first time you follow this approach it may not go as smoothly as you might hope. That’s ok. Learn from the bumps in the road and apply that knowledge to the next time. Keep working at it and you will eventually master it.
Delegation, done the right way (and you can do it the right way), is one of the most effective tools available to a leader. So ask yourself: Do you really delegate or do you just collect other people’s problems? If the answer is you are a “collector” then stop right now, unless you enjoy being a victim. Your career, business and quality of life depend on it.