Delegation: The Secret to Highly Productive Leaders

Have you ever noticed that some leaders seem to be able to be in two places at once? And their teams seem to get more done? The secret to multiplying your organization’s productivity is effective delegation. The ability to delegate effectively is a skill every manager needs to achieve and exceed their organization’s vision and goals.

 In the words of Marilyn Sherman, Crestcom’s Delegation and Conflict Management  Expert, “Delegation is one of the most powerful tools you have as a leader. It multiplies your impact and helps you stay focused on the highest value activities that contribute to your organization’s success. It improves both the quality and the quantity of your team’s results.” Anyone can delegate more effectively using these five tips:

  1. Decide what and why to delegate.  Not everything can or should be delegated. Think strategically about the tasks at hand and who is best qualified for completing them. Choosing the person best suited to the job is often the key to success. Delegation requires some finesse, especially when delegating to colleagues who are not direct reports. It is imperative that you can clearly explain why you are asking that person to complete a task.
  2. Communicate expectations clearly. Be sure to layout the larger vision for the project and what successful completion will ultimately look like. Be clear about measurements of success, and encourage employees to ask any questions they have about their assignment. Get confirmation that the team member fully understands and agrees to the requirements of the assignment
  3. Extend Trust. Delegation requires trust. Some managers struggle to hand over tasks they once did themselves, afraid that no one can do the job as well as they could do it themselves. Not only do you have to trust others to complete the work that is needed, but you also must trust them with the authority they need to do the job. When possible, empower your employees with the power to make decisions that keep the project moving ahead. For example, how the budget for a project will be spent or the vendor they will use. 
  4. Check-In. Make regular check-ins a part of every assignment. Avoid micro-managing, but set regular intervals for checking in on an employee’s progress with their task. This allows you to determine if there are unforeseen challenges, answer any questions, or make adjustments to timelines as needed. Use your best judgment about the frequency and intensity of these check-ins based on each team member’s experience and seniority level. A new employee might need frequent face-to-face check-ins to ensure their questions are heard, while a more seasoned employee might only need a quick email inquiring about the status of an assignment.
  5. Evaluate the Outcomes. Once the assignment is complete, evaluate the process and results. Celebrate and reward successes, and get curious about any mistakes or setbacks. Taking time to learn where challenges arise will improve the process and inform tasks you delegate in the future.