Being in a management position might mean a promotion, with a whole lot of bragging rights and maybe even a party or two. But what happens after you hand over the responsibilities?
The campaign for the project launch at 10 a.m.
New copywriter interview at 11.
The business strategy meeting at lunch.
A sales huddle at 2 p.m.
And the client presentation for the updates at 4 — all calling for attention the second you sit at your desk.
There are piles of emails and paperwork to finish while you wish you had 30 hours a day, nine days a week. Suddenly, becoming a manager becomes a burden rather than an achievement. As you lie down at night for a couple of hours of sleep, that is, if you can, you think:
Is there any way to make each day better?
Some see delegating as a sign of weakness: that we cannot handle our responsibilities by ourselves. But, we beg to differ.
Knowing how, when, and whom to delegate is critical to becoming an effective leader AND a better manager.
In this article, we're going to show why it's beneficial for agency owners and CEOs to learn this very special skill.
Make Effective Delegation Your Goal
Honing delegation skills is difficult. But once your skills are sharp as a tack, you'll reap huge benefits in the long run. Effective delegation will free up your time, make you a better leader, and build your team's strengths.
First, let's define what delegation is.
What exactly is delegating?
The word "delegation" comes from the Latin word de legare which means to appoint one's representative. Delegating is the act of sharing the workload by entrusting the task or responsibility to another person in the organization.
Why is knowing how to delegate crucial?
Because it will have a positive, company-wide impact once you have a clear understanding of how to delegate tasks properly.
- Prevents us from majoring on minor things
For new project managers, this can be daunting, especially if the team is looking up to us and we're already pointing the workload back at them. It does not mean we are abandoning them, we are only taking our hands off minor things to major in higher-level thinking tasks meant for managers.
By then, our hands will be free from unnecessary workload when the time comes for us to take care of managerial responsibilities.
- It strengthens our time management skills
Learning how to delegate work is beneficial for us to oversee things and helps prevent us from becoming busy and overwhelmed. When we fail to delegate, we become swamped with work, and with too much work comes burnout that clouds our ability to think with clarity.
Being able to master how to delegate more effectively also gives us mastery of control, maintaining work-life balance, and time management skills, all while looking at the big picture.
- Helps us to lead the team
As managers, our performance is only as good as the teams we lead. If we disappoint ourselves by failing every time we try to do all things on our own, we also disappoint our team. So when we become proficient in how to properly delegate tasks as a leader, we also become a mentor as we share our know-how on producing and delivering great outcomes.
Our success in delegating becomes a shared success with the rest of our team.
How to Be Strategic in Delegating
To be able to delegate well, we need to first identify the tasks and the best team members to assign them to. Then we can start building trust by communicating and giving feedback. It may sound simple, but most managers fail to hone their delegation skills.
Here's the breakdown of how to delegate more effectively in your business.
The first step is to identify which tasks are suitable for delegation and which are best to do ourselves.
Pinpointing the jobs for delegation also helps us become aware of the type of work experience, time, and expertise needed for specific tasks. High-priority tasks, for example, can be delegated (or not) because of their urgency, depending on the capacity of the performer and the expertise needed.
Time-consuming and recurring tasks, on the other hand, MUST be delegated to someone else. Or automated using proper tools. These include:
- Copy-pasting data
- Sending transactional emails
- Administrative work (like booking a flight)
These tasks can eat up an entire afternoon if we don't delegate them and we'll drop the ball on our essential responsibilities.
Team member selection
Knowing how to delegate tasks also means knowing the right people for the task.
Remember, choosing is a process of matching the right tasks to each team member’s strengths. It's not done on the basis of a chance meeting at the copier or because we want to punish them for being absent the week before.
When selecting a delegate for our tasks, we must keep in mind that ideally, you should delegate to someone interested in developing a new skill or improving their current abilities.
Another thing to remember is the person's availability and capacity to do the task on their own. We don't want them spearheading market research alone over a dozen states!
One of the vital skills when learning how to delegate responsibilities efficiently is communication.
Managers should have a clear expectation of their desired outcome for a task and communicate that beforehand. Mastering how to delegate effectively as a leader also requires us to share that expectation with team members, and give enough time to set clear instructions, scenarios, and resources.
Before the assignment, we do a one-on-one and huddles to inform all team members. As a team, we work collaboratively, instead of just leaving them hanging after we've handed over the instructions.
- Do the tasks need detailed instructions?
- Have you asked your team member to report back after completing the task?
- Does your co-worker need to ask for your approval before submission or tagging as complete?
- Or is your team member accountable for the task from start to finish?
The role of having precise instructions and open dialogue promotes efficiency and builds stronger ties between those we delegate to and ourselves.
Empowerment and trust
Avoid micromanagement, i.e., checking too often or spoon-feeding the solution instead of letting team members think through and make decisions themselves.
"I think I better check up on what John is doing," or "I wonder if Jane needs me to take over on the task I delegated."
Sometimes, as project managers, we find it hard to delegate because we think it takes more time to go through the delegation process rather than do the task ourselves.
However, empowering our subordinates has long-term benefits:
- They sharpen their analytical and critical-thinking skills
- We boost their morale, keeping them engaged
- They become more confident in making decisions
- They put their faith (and trust) in their leaders
It takes time to develop a culture of trust between the team members and leadership. But the time invested is worth it.
Feedback and refinement
Providing feedback after task completion helps the team member's personal development. We can give constructive comments on the leverage of the final product, whether the desired results have been achieved, areas for improvement, and the quality of work put into the delivery.
Whether you're communicating changes that should be made the next time or commending a job well done, continuous feedback is vital to fine-tune the skills required to accomplish the tasks.
Feedback and refinement go both ways – they develop the team's efficiency and improve how we delegate tasks.
You Keep Coming Across Challenges on How to Delegate. What Should You Do?
By practicing how to delegate well, the delegation process eventually becomes natural to us. While many managers find it challenging to let go of their tasks, the best way is to explore solutions to our delegating struggles and formulate a suitable approach to handling them.
The challenge: "I started this idea, and I have already invested a lot in it."
We all know the thinking that holds us back from delegating. Things like, This is my pet project, I took care of it from proposal to approval and I want to be recognized for finishing it. My team might see me as incapable of handling my own tasks and I don't want to give my responsibilities away.
The answer: Newsflash! No one is taking it away from you
We need to remember that we're part of a highly-skilled team that's there to get a job done. This should motivate us to enable them as much as we can and utilize their skills to the fullest. Think about their capacity, what are they good at (sometimes they even do better than us), and their interest in doing it.
To take care of a project means to do whatever is necessary to get the desired outcome. It doesn't mean we have to do everything ourselves. No one is taking the project away from us. If we don't know how to delegate, we neglect to give these tasks the attention they deserve anyway and set ourselves up for failure.
At the end of the day, it becomes more fulfilling not only to finish a project but also to gain experience, build stronger relationships with colleagues, and even learn a thing or two from them.
The challenge: "I have a to-do list. Can I pass it on?"
I work as the new manager for ABC agency. I've already started delegating some of the morning tasks such as leading the morning huddle for the team. But I remain present on the sidelines, fixing my client presentation at 1 o'clock. Unfortunately, the Post-it on my desk has been there since Monday! Can I get rid of it by delegating?
The answer: "Yes, if..."
Not all tasks can be delegated, especially not everything on our list of to-do's.
Let's take a look at the list before delegating, and ensure that we can answer yes to all these questions:
- Is the task recurring and would take up my time again in the future?
- Will the task provide an opportunity for one of my team members to grow?
- Is the task not critical and non-managerial in nature?
- Will I have enough time to delegate this task?
Once we have four yeses, we can proceed with delegating the tasks on the list. Be sure to communicate with the team member you are entrusting the tasks to . . . which brings us to the next challenge.
The challenge: "I regret having delegated this task."
I gave the task to the most qualified, available person, and I guided them through the clear instructions I gave. But even if he was interested, he still failed. I should have done the task myself! It would have been easier for everyone.
The solution: Patience is key to honing a skill.
It took us years of experience, technical know-how, and a lot of failures to be where we are right now. We can't expect junior team members to be perfect at doing tasks after just one go. It always takes time to become good at it (like what we are doing – honing our delegation skills).
Along with trust and the right approach, we're there to guide them in enhancing what they already have. Or helping them discover abilities they never even knew they possessed.
Sure, it would be easier (in the short-term) if we could just DIY everything. But that's not realistic. And in the long-term, when managerial tasks take a toll on us, we might wish we had trained someone to do the time-consuming, recurring tasks a long time ago.
Here's another tip:
Always remember the purpose behind each task. Ask yourself, 'What is our goal here?' By understanding the 'why,' we help our team members recognize the significance of their roles in achieving that goal.
Tip: Reinforce Delegation Using The Right Tools
Here are some tools and tech that enhance delegation for agency owners and increase teams' productivity:
- Project management: This tool enables us to keep track of our calendar schedules, deadlines, deliverables, budget, and resources. We can also check and inquire about the progress of our team in this software.
- Communications: The communications tool should only be one collaborative tool with real-time access for everyone. This eliminates unnecessary chatter in other platforms and collects all announcements, solutions, and notices in one place.
- CRM: The customer relationship management tool should be a place for all our client records, potential customers, analytics, and strategies on how to improve and expand our relationship with them.
- Document management database: For all the agency records, employee data, SOPs, policies, regulations, and templates, a specific database should hold all the information together in one place.
Using these tools as an aid in learning how to delegate better makes our processes more efficient, transparent, and consistent. It may take a while to know which software works for you, but once you have the essentials, you're already halfway there!
So, let's recap how to delegate those time-consuming tasks effectively:
- Shift gears from "doer" to "leader." Strategic delegation isn't just passing off tasks; it's about driving from the backseat.
- Boost your time game and share the win! Delegate wisely and stop sweating the small stuff.
- Ace delegation by: pinpointing tasks, choosing your star player, chatting clearly, giving them the reins, and refining with feedback. Think of it like choosing the right dance partner.
- Become a delegation dynamo. Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are delegation skills. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
Our top tip for leveling up your delegation game for your subordinates?
Start strong at the hiring gate! Dive into our Team Onboarding Hacks, and watch as you save not just pennies but sanity, while unlocking the magic in every team member.
Stay the star of the show, without actually being in every scene. Overdoing your role? That's last season. Remember, you're the anchor, not the entire ship.
Your team doesn't just want a boss; they need a lighthouse in the stormy sea of tasks and challenges. So, shine on!