7 Steps to Effective Delegation 

by Cindy Gordon

Having a successful, thriving company can only occur when your team flourishes. The onus is on leaders to create a business culture that focuses on helping each person grow and expand her skills, knowledge and responsibilities. Unfortunately, this can be very challenging for many of us because of a lack of time and an inability to delegate work effectively. We always have too much work and too little time.

New responsibilities are passed to employees in a haphazard way. What results is, the work doesn’t get done properly, the employees feel discouraged and inadequate, and the leaders feel frustrated and stressed. Not a culture that promotes growth!

We believe that a leader is only a good as her employees. We’ve found that, with support, leaders can joyfully take on the responsibility of delegating work and reap the benefits of the positive outcomes it brings.

Here are 7 steps to effective delegation. They are easy to implement and the outcomes are proven successful!

1. Consider the task that you want to delegate and determine the best person to assign it to. Don’t just consider technical skills. Areas such as employee strengths, personality fit, and growth and learning gaps are important to assess as well. It’s easy to turn to your most talented people, but they will quickly become overworked and stressed, while others will feel underutilized and unappreciated.

2. Provide a detailed explanation of what’s involved. Make sure your explanation clearly describes what the outcome should look like. Your explanation should also include when it’s needed by, estimates of how much time it should take, and who to turn to for assistance. If another person will be used for guidance, ensure he or she is included in the delegation conversation. Have the employee you’re delegating to take notes and repeat the directions back to ensure you’re both on the same page.

3. Get employee buy-in. It’s one thing for the delegator to feel like the employee is the right person to take on the responsibility, but it’s another thing for the employee to buy in. The employee needs to understand how this new responsibility will benefit her both on a professional and personal level. Know your employee’s professional goals and help her see how the new task will benefit her. If you’re the only one with grand aspirations for your employee’s future, it’s likely she won’t be excited about taking on the additional work.

4. Identify what training is needed. The last thing you want is for the employee to either struggle with the task or hesitate to ask questions. An employee should be encouraged to ask questions and not feel like she’ll be disturbing you. This mindset will lead to delegation failure! Her learning and growth should be a top priority. If you’re not good at training or don’t enjoy it, that’s OK. Seek out the people in your organization (or outside consultants) who do. Let them be the “go-to” person for questions and help. Your employee will not waste time trying to figure problems out on her own because she’ll have someone excited to answer her questions.

5. Delegate the task, not the method. While you may have a great method to get the work done, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Your method may not work with how someone else thinks. Forcing your process on your employee may leave her frustrated and confused. Give her the leeway to create her own process or method where possible. Over time, she’ll be able to refine it and make the process more efficient.

6. Provide timely feedback. Whether it’s reviewing her work at specific stages or at its completion, the employee needs to know where she stands. It’s important to provide feedback of the work based on the discussion of the task assignment. Have the employee pull out her original notes and assess her accomplishments based on what was set out. Did she achieve the task as discussed or maybe the task wasn’t as clearly explained as you thought? It will be a good learning opportunity for everyone.

7. Provide acknowledgement and recognition. Whether the task was completed perfectly or not, find areas to provide positive comments. People thrive on positive feedback. This will keep your employee motivated to keep handling the new task and help you with other responsibilities in the future.

Clearly, the benefits of effective delegation are immense, and as business owners we should keep this in the forefront of our minds to motivate us to do more of it!

Cindy Gordon is the founder of Business Rescue Coaching, a boutique coaching service that provides a unique experience to small business owners. Gordon helps to build strong systems, processes and strategies that lead to higher profits, more cash in the bank and more autonomous employees. Her clients feel less stress while achieving more success. Contact her at (602) 423-7670 or by email.

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