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How to Delegate Confidently

A sign of a good leader is how they are able to delegate.  You need to get the work done through others.  This is the best way to accomplish more every day.  The basic definition of delegating is “assigning duties to another person or persons while still being held accountable.”  The most important thing is to know whom to delegate to and when.  You should make sure you know exactly what needs to be accomplished before you give the task to someone else. 


Don’t feel like you are passing the buck.  This is expected of you as a manager.  It is vital that you let your staff take on most of the tasks, projects, etc.  This gives them a chance to show what they can do.  It breaks up the monotony of the day and gives some excitement to the individual or team. 


Some managers make the mistake to not delegate because they think that if they hold all of the cards, they are indispensable.  On the contrary, you are more indispensable when you show your leadership skills by delegating.  You are more likely to get praised or even promoted when you show your leadership skills, and not because you know something that someone else doesn’t know. 


Successful delegation of authority might seem like it takes time and energy, but it's worth it.  It helps employee empowerment and gives you a chance to focus on larger and more pressing issues.  It's worth the time and energy to help employees succeed and help them in their development.  They will more likely be able to meet your expectations, and you build the employee's self-confidence and self-esteem.  Employees, who feel successful, usually are successful.  This will also open up future delegation opportunities.  The more you delegate, the easier it becomes.  The tighter you hold on, the harder it will be to let go. 


Do not be intimidated when it comes to delegating.  You might feel unsure and timid when approaching another to do the work.  Use your leadership skills to confidently delegate with a “matter of fact” approach.  Again, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.  In fact, you will be respected for your delegation skills.


You get power, when you give power.  Help your employees grow, teach them well, and be happy in their success.  The best compliment you can get is a compliment given to one of your employees.



Before you delegate, first ask yourself these three questions: 


  1. Can this project or task be delegated and do you have the staff that can honestly do the work required?


  1. Should it be delegated or is it too critical and truly needs your involvement?


  1. Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively and explain the expectations and outcome? 



If you can say yes to the three questions just asked, utilize these eight tips and points when delegating:


  1. Pick the right person best suited for the task.  Match the task with the person closest to the responsibility.  Some tasks can go to a lower rung employee, or some might need to go to a supervisor.  They just need to have the knowledge and skills to do the job.   You want it done right.  If the project is successful, the employee gets the credit.  If it fails, you are accountable. 


  1. Make sure the person can work independently.  What tends to happen is the unsure or savvy person continually asks questions to the point where you end up doing most of the work.  This is called “reverse delegation.”  Through time, you end up taking on some if not all of the duties you gave the person.  You end up spending more time on the project than you would if you have just did it yourself from the beginning.  You get questions like, “Can you set that up for me?” even though they should be able to do it for themselves.  If you come across this type of situation, instead of making the decision for them or taking back the task, go over the various possibilities and put the ball back into their court.  If you ask for something and somehow you walked away with the responsibility, you have experienced reverse delegation.  Don’t give in unless the person truly cannot do the task asked of them.  If needed, assign the task to someone else without demoralizing the person.


  1. Make sure the person understands exactly what it is you want them to do.  Set clear and objective goals.  Let them know exactly what you want.  Do not just say something like, “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you will be able to figure it out.”  Ask questions, watch the work performed, or have the employee give you feedback to make sure your instructions were understood.


  1. Get the agreement and commitment of the employee.  You want them to commit to you that they will perform the duties to the best of their abilities.  If they are overwhelmed, or if they are already working on previously delegated tasks, chances are the project won’t get the attention it deserves.  You will also be stressing out the employee.


  1. Give the person the authority to take control of the whole project.  This will show you trust the individual and not look as though you just dumped all of the work on them, yet take the credit.  They should be able to attend meetings associated with the project even when upper management is involved.  Make sure you stand by the person and their decisions.  Also make sure they use their authority wisely and not abuse the power given.


  1. Determine what tasks will need more monitoring than others.  It is up to you to determine the strengths and who can get the job done quickly.  The good news about delegation is having someone you trust do the work, however, you are still held accountable for the outcome.  Give a deadline when you expect the project or task to be completed.  Set up a daily or weekly meeting to review if you feel it’s needed.  Whatever you do, do not micromanage and watch over the employees shoulder every few minutes.  You need to let them make, and correct, mistakes.  It‘s all about balance.  Give them the space to be able to utilize their abilities to the best effect, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly.  It is also their responsibility to report to you on the progress of the project.  You should not have to ask for updates.


  1. Motivate them by discussing how the success of the project will make a positive impact.  The positive impact refers to thecompany and to themselves.  Let them know that what they are doing is truly important, and that they will be recognized for a job well done.  This will help build commitment to the project as well.


  1. Once the project or task is completed, carefully review.  Make sure all was done correctly and to your satisfaction.  If you accept incomplete work or a lack of effort, you will be hurting yourself and the employee.  They will not learn, and you will always get the same results.  It might take some extra time upfront, but the reward is a better future.  Be sure to praise, when praise is due, when the job is completed up to standards.  The easiest and simplest reward to give is a compliment to the completed delegated work.  You both walk away feeling good and satisfied about the accomplishment. 



Here are three different possibilities to consider, before a task or project is considered complete:


  • Do you need to make the final decision that the task is completed?The employee reports to you when the task is finished and you decide whether or not it is completed.


  • Do you need to review with the employee and the two of you decide that the task is completed?The employee reports to you before making the final action to finish the task, which then is considered completed. 


  • Do you let the employee make the decision that the task is completed?The employee just lets you know that the task is finished and has decided that it is completed.



The levels of delegation needs to be understood by all in the same way when setting clear goals and objectives.  Also, when you delegate, try not to always pick the same person.  Spread it around to those who show interest.  If you have your eye on someone to promote, delegating to that person is a win/win situation.  Just be careful that you do not show favoritism as you could run into Human Resource issues.


By implementing the points given, you will be able to confidently delegate with successful results.


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