Most leaders–whether they’re leading a government or leading a company–are delegating on the fly. Things are changing minute by minute, and we all want to be responsive to these changes. But how can you do that without driving your team crazy and getting lost in the chaos?
Besides good delegation skills, what you need is a system for delegating that can be established quickly and tightened up later. And I’m going to show you how to do it.
How to Delegate on the Fly
When it comes to delegating tasks on the go, the first thing we need to do is set our employees up for success. This delegation process begins with knowing each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, that way, you can delegate tasks to employees that could benefit greatly from or employees that could do them better than anyone else. Knowing what to delegate properly and the desired outcome is just as important. Delegating effectively can sometimes mean not delegating at all. For example, do not delegate things such as professional development and performance reviews – those are things you can use to better understands your employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
To delegate tasks effectively can also mean learning to let go, even when you feel you could do a particular task better than anyone else. The right person to assign tasks isn’t always the one who can do them better than anyone else but sometimes it’s the one that can do it worst than anyone – so they could learn with more responsibility and a vote of confidence.
Obviously, that’s what we all want, but how do we achieve it?
Create a Safe Space
First of all, you need to let them know that it’s ok to fail. Nothing and nobody is perfect, but the fear of failure can still be paralyzing. If you give a team member some quick instructions for a project without any guidelines, they won’t know what to do. Put yourself in their shoes. Tell them–“hey, it’s ok if you make mistakes. That’s ok. Just give it a try.”
Next, you have to be transparent about where you are with things. Maybe you have a brand new idea that you think is amazing, but you haven’t figured out all the specificities yet. That’s ok! Just be open and honest with your team. A lot of us are flying the plane as we’re building it, so things look really messy. But this is all about partnership. You and your team are in this together. So being transparent with everyone about where a project or idea is, who is supposed to be doing what, and how things have progressed is crucial!
When you’re delegating on the fly, make sure you and your team understand that this does not have to produce a final product right away. You’re giving minimal instructions that are often unclear. That’s ok! If you have them, give your team members some examples or research to get started on. It’s all about lighting the match. You just want to get them started down the right path.
Do not just delegate tasks
The delegated task is one way to involve your employees but to delegate responsibility and authority is another thing and you shouldn’t shy away from it. According to Harvard Business School, “If the person you’re delegating work to needs specific training, resources, or authority to complete the assigned project, it’s your role as a manager to provide all three.”
Delegating on the fly is all well and good, but these ideas will never come to fruition without a good process in place to check on their status. You can do this with a short check-in. Establish the first milestone–it should be relatively quick and small. Then you can check-in with them early on in the project to make sure they’re on the right path. And if they’re not, you can course-correct quickly.
Just a quick reminder–when you’re giving out tasks on the fly, either you or your team member has to put it into your project manager. Otherwise it’ll just get lost in the abyss. You have to document them in the right place if you want them to get done.
But you’re busy. So how can you facilitate these check-ins so you actually do them and don’t bottleneck the whole damn project? You set up a review process that is easy and works for you.
For example, I have my team attach screenshots of deliverables in our project manager. That way, I can review their delegated work and give feedback when I’m in line at the grocery store or have a few minutes between calls. It’s easy and accessible on my phone, so I’m more likely to do it in a timely manner. That keeps everything from getting backed up in the project pipeline.
Wondering how to delegate effectively shows a leader that wants to involve their employees more. Initially, this might all be modge-podged together. But this will become part of your feedback loop, and you can adjust the process as you go along. Operations are all about adjusting as you go to make your life simpler and your work better.
Need help navigating operations and workflow for both you and your team? Let’s chat–I bet I can help you delegate projects and boost productivity in no time.
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