7 Essential Steps for Delegating Successfully

Whether you’ve recently been promoted to a management role or you simply have too much to do and too little time, successful delegation can help you out a lot. Use these 7 essential steps to delegate in the most effective way possible.

1. Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Before you can delegate, you need to have a thorough understanding of your strengths and weaknesses at work. What skills do you have that others don’t? What areas are you weaker in that you’re not actively trying to improve at the moment? Answering these questions will help you identify the best tasks and projects to delegate.

2. Understand Their Strengths and Weaknesses: If you have a person in mind, a colleague or an employee, to whom you will delegate tasks you also need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. You want to match tasks with their strengths, especially if you’re piling on to their already busy workload. If you mismatch tasks and pair someone with a project that plays mostly to their weaknesses, you’re less likely to get the results you want and you may have saved more time just doing it yourself.

3. Select Tasks They’re Best Suited For: Now that you’ve evaluated your own strengths and weaknesses as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the person you’re delegating to, you can more effectively select a task that they’re best suited for. The ideal tasks for delegation are the kind that never fall into your top three priority list but make a somewhat significant dent in your workday. If you can’t find one that overlaps with both of these requirements, favor the tasks that never fall into your top three things to do for the day. Prioritizing ruthlessly will help you discover things that can be delegated more easily.

4. Start With Extreme Specificity: It’s a lot easier for things to get lost in translation than you realize. You need to make sure you’re communicating project and task requirements with extreme specificity, especially if this is the first time you’ve delegated this task or to this person. You want to set them up for success and they won’t be able to do things right the first time if you’re not specific enough while giving instructions.

5. Loosen the Reigns and Instructions as Time Progresses: While specificity is good when you’re giving instructions for a project or task they’ve never worked on before, it can be limiting and verge on micromanagement. That’s why it’s important to find appropriate times to ease off on the specificity. This will help your colleague or employee learn how to execute requests and also teach you a new way of doing things, especially when the project plays to skills that they’re stronger at than you are. And, when you do delegate projects where you want things to look exactly the way you would do them, this will reinforce the importance of your specific instructions.

6. Provide Feedback: Whether you’re ready to offer constructive criticism to help iron out any kinks in the delegation process or positive feedback for a job well done, taking the time to provide feedback is essential when you start to delegate. It promotes good will, establishes a stronger collaborative relationship, and make the delegation process easier going forward.

7. Loosen Expectations of the Results: At the end of the day, one of the most helpful things you can do to ease the process of delegation is to loosen your expectations of the results. This doesn’t necessarily mean setting lower standards or anticipating poor results but, instead, accepting that others may work differently than you. While you can spell out precise specifics for every detail of how you want the results to look, it’s a time consuming process that will almost certainly result in outcomes that don’t fully meet your expectations. No one will do a project exactly the way you would do it and, as long as the important elements are there, that has to be okay. Remember, you’re delegating these tasks because you don’t have time to do them yourself and it’s helping you focus on more important work.

Successful delegation is important if you’re a busy professional, especially in a lead or management position. Part of being productive is knowing which tasks are essential for you to do and which tasks you can pass on to others when your time is stretched too thin. Follow these 7 steps and you’ll be able to delegate successfully!