January 15, 2015

3 Simple Things To Remember When Delegating Tasks

things to remember when delegating tasks

Letting go can be hard, but delegating tasks is an important thing to do, both for yourself and for whoever you’re delegating to.

If you’re not delegating, you’ll never finish all of your work, and if you delegate too much, employees might become overwhelmed. The trick is in what tasks you choose to delegate, and who you delegate to.

Even if you are 30% better at a task than someone who works for you, the time it takes for you to check on them every few hours, and demand approvals over trivial decisions, costs more in lost morale, passion for work, and destruction of self-respect among your staff than the 30% you think you’re adding. – Scott Berkun

When you delegate tasks, you are showing your employees that you trust them to get the work done. When you delegate, you have to actually delegate, and believe that the employee will get it right.

Don’t go checking in on them every few hours, you’ll be labelled as a “micro-manager”, which is a pretty bad label to have.

If you don’t trust your employees to do the task completely, just do it yourself.

Instead, what you need to do is make sure they understand the assignment so that there is no room for error. It’s most often that lack of clarity that makes the delegation go wrong.

Employees need autonomy to grow.

If you’re not giving it to them, they’ll become disengaged, and not care about what they do. This has happened to me in the past, and I can tell you first-hand that it totally ruins motivation. I remember my effort dropping each time I was asked to do a task that I knew would be re-done by my boss anyways.

Like I said earlier, if you’re not going to trust me to do the work completely, then you might as well just do it yourself.

I recommend consistently checking in on employees through employee pulse surveys to find out how their sense of autonomy is. If it’s low, or starting to get lower, then something needs to be done about it.

Delegating tasks is an important thing to do for your own productivity and to help employees grow, but here are three things to keep in mind when delegating tasks.

1. Give Very Clear Instructions

This is what separates the good delegation from the bad delegation.

When you give an employee a task, make sure you give them very clear instructions on what they need to do, what you expect to see as a result, and where they can go to find help.

Don’t go into too much detail, because you don’t want to insult the person’s intelligence, but make sure that they clearly understand what to do and by when.

Feel free to break up the task into smaller tasks that you can set milestones too. It’s important to set milestones so that you can track the progress of the task.

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2. Keep Track Of The Progress

This is a bit of a tricky one, because I keep mentioning that when you delegate, you want to leave the person alone and let them have that autonomy, but at the same time, if you don’t check in at all until the end, things could go wrong.

The task could have not been completed correctly, and it’s not fun to be left in the dark during the entire process.

Technology can help.

At Officevibe, we use Trello, which is a task management application. In Trello, we have different columns that represent the state of the task. For example, when we write a blog post, the first column is To-Do, then Written, then Scheduled In WordPress, and finally Published.

screenshot of trello

These statuses help keep everyone in the loop as to where we are in the process. It’s not micromanaging, because no one’s leaning over my shoulder asking me for an update, but out of respect, we all let each other know where we’re at in terms of progress.

3. Teach Them

This is especially important at the beginning.

While we want to let our employees spread their wings and fly, we should be there for them at the beginning to ensure that everything is going smoothly.

Offer to sit down with them for a quick 30 minutes to teach them any skills or tools that they might need to help them with the task.

Feedback early in the process can be good, and can help guide employees in the right direction.

How Do You Delegate Tasks?

Any tips or tricks you can share with us? Let me know on Twitter @JacobShriar or @Officevibe.

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