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5 Steps for Successful Delegation

In my coaching practice, delegation comes up again and again as a tricky issue for leaders. Many find it difficult to let go and to trust others to produce outcomes that met their expectations. They also like to be in control and have concerns about not being kept in the loop. Not knowing what’s going on across everything in detail causes them to feel discomfort. Another issue for leaders is a reluctance to overload their team members with additional work, a desire to to ensure a reasonable workload. Another issue I come across a lot, is the belief that it takes more work to delegate than it does to do it yourself. If any of these sound familiar to you – you are not alone!

First of all lets have a look at where these three concerns can come from

Barriers to Delegation

  • Control and micromanagement comes down to trust. Trusting both self and others.
  • A reluctance to overload can come from a desire to be liked as a leader as well as a genuine concern for the workload of others – especially if you are feeling overloaded yourself.
  • A concern that delegation takes more work than doing it yourself indicates that completion of the required work is seen as something that benefits only  the leader. Other benefits of delegation such as valuing others contributions and opportunities for learning are not considered.
  • We may be concerned that a team member may not have the knowledge, skills and capabilities they need to complete the work
  • We don’t know what to delegate and what to keep for ourselves

These are some of the reasons that we don’t delegate. Let’s look now at some of the reasons that we should.

Good Reasons for Delegating 

  • A significant role of a leader is so help others develop leadership and other skills. Delegation is a good way of doing this
  • Good leaders trust others ad give responsibility before people show them that they are worthy
  • Team members who feel trusted, who feel like they are accomplishing things and making a difference are likely to feel more engaged. People don’t generally leave jobs they leave leaders.
  • Effective delegation requires meaningful communication, a sharing of ideas and seeking to understand. Also things that increase employee engagement.
  • Effective delegation often requires systems in both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. These can be used again and again after initial work and as a result will increase productivity.
  • A leader who creates a climate of trust, communication and working together to achieve team goals, positively influences workplace or team culture in a person centred way.

Lets look at how. The following steps will help you to address some of the barriers to delegation.

5 Steps to Successful Delegation

Step 1

Create a list of strengths and capabilities for each team member.

Step 2

Determine your 1st delegation goal. Doing this alone will increase your comfort around delegation:

Create three columns and list the essential things that you need to do? The things that you cannot delegate. Then list the things that you could delegate but would quite like to keep. In the final column list the things that you know you should delegate but don’t.

Choose 1 thing to delegate from the third column and set a written goal . Make it SMART

  • Specific – what do you specifically need to be done?
  • Measurable – how will you know it is done?
  • Achievable – we will come back to this one – its important.
  • Relevant – how is it important to you, the team, team goals, KPI’s etc. And also hoe will the learning be important to your team member?
  • Time bound – when does it need to be done by?

Step 3

Back to  Achievable

Look at your list of team strengths and decide which of your team members can manage the workload and is the best fit and / or would most benefit from learning the skills required to complete the work.

It is important now to make sure that the team member you chose has the resources they need to complete the work. These could include internal or external resources. This is the communication part. Meet with the person, and share each letter of you SMART goal. Using the assessment of skills you did earlier, seek a shared understanding of capabilities and gaps. For each gap identified, help them identify a way of closing it. For example:

  • You showing them how to do it and then watching them do it
  • Reading a manual or procedure
  • Watching someone else in house do it
  • Going somewhere else to see how others do it
  • Accessing a mentor
  • Doing a course

Now o ensure the goal is achievable, create an agreement with them about how much support they need from you and others to complete the goal in the timeframe and how often.

Step 4

Repeat as necessary. In the end you will be delegating  your middle column too!

Step 5

Document your system for delegation because you now have a way of teaching developing leaders how to do it too.

And finally if you are a parent of pre teens and teens – try this at home.

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