How to delegate effectively

    When workload is too much the obvious
    solution is to delegate to someone else in the team, writes
    Nathalie Towner
    . The odds are they’re keen to take on
    some extra responsibility and it would free you up to concentrate
    on your core activities. But there is an art to delegating
    effectively and many of us find it hard to let go.

    Excuses range from not having the time to show someone how to do
    the job, not wanting to burden a colleague or lack of trust. But it
    is a crucial skill to have if you are to be an effective
    manager.

    Knowing how to delegate properly can increase team motivation
    and make people feel valued. But get it wrong and it leads to
    discord and a job badly done.

    When to delegate

    Paula Rowe, regional manager for mental health provider Rethink,
    believes delegating should be used to develop staff. “I match where
    development is needed and what the individual’s career
    interests are,” she says. Done properly Rowe believes it can aid
    career progression and build confidence.

    How to approach it

    Rowe uses appraisals to see what competencies her staff want to
    develop. “When I delegate I want it to be meaningful to the
    organisation and the individual and not done without any forward
    thinking,” she says. By viewing it as a career boost people are
    likely to welcome the new responsibility and see it as a way of
    growing in the organisation.

    Don’t butt in

    This is tricky: if you are too distant you won’t pick up
    on problems or be offering proper guidance but if you are too
    involved it can come across as lack of trust in the person’s
    capability. Rowe recommends a careful balance to avoid the person
    being too dependent but at the same time to make it very clear what
    is expected of them. “Managers should identify areas where they
    need support and provide training if needed,” she says. “Ensure
    they reflect on how it is going and that you are not taking the
    lead but be there if they need extra help.”

    Avoid just using one person

    It is all too easy to just keep delegating to the most reliable
    and ambitious person in the team. It is time-consuming providing
    support and if the person already knows what they are doing they
    will need less input from you. To avoid this Rowe recommends a
    planned approach to delegation, so tasks can be spread across the
    group. It may even be possible to get one team member to coach
    another if they have done it before.

    If they are struggling

    If the person is not coping with their new task then you will
    have to step in. This is why it is important to be very clear about
    your expectations and to give them regular milestones to achieve.
    This makes it easier to go back and explain it is not working as
    agreed. If it is just one particular issue you can step in to help
    them get over this particular hurdle and then leave them to carry
    on.

    Give feedback

    It is equally important to provide praise for a job well done as
    to go over any issues that have arisen. Be constructive with your
    feedback. “People may not like it at the time but afterwards when
    they have thought it through they will find your comments useful,”
    says Rowe. It is particularly important to comment when the
    assignment is complete but it is also worth giving feedback
    throughout the process.

     

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