Do you ever feel like there’s too much on your plate? Whether you are a business owner or director or you have people reporting to you, it’s natural to be thinking about every corner of your company’s needs.
But sometimes it’s to the point of overwhelm — and that’s not productive. This is why delegation is a vital skill that every effective manager and leader must master.
We’re here to remind you that your team members are your fighters, each positioned to provide expertise and support in different business areas. So, when entrusting them with tasks, you must know how to delegate to ensure your team yields top results effectively.
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the importance of delegation in management, the benefits of successful delegation, and the steps to mastering this essential skill. Understanding the art of delegation can unlock your team’s potential and drive exceptional results.
What is Delegation?
Delegation refers to the act of entrusting tasks, responsibilities, and authority to others. It allows managers and leaders to focus on high-priority tasks and strategic initiatives while empowering team members to contribute to the organization’s success.
Here’s an example of delegation:
Let’s say you are an entrepreneur in the business of water filtration, and you spearhead an amazing idea for a campaign.
Right away, it’s clear that this is a big task (not a one-person show!), so you start putting your thoughts into an outline of what needs to be done. This list might include strategizing, sourcing and creating content, scripting video or writing captions for social media posts, pooling together your target demographic, and tracking performance analytics.
As a leader, you know it’s best to create a team for this project. Call it a task force if you will, this group of skilled professionals will carry out each job in this operation so that it comes together in its entirety.
What you are doing here is trusting others with your vision. That’s delegating.
What are the Benefits of Successful Delegation?
Successful delegation is a win-win situation for everyone, leading to increased efficiency, improved team morale, enhance professional growth, plus so much more.
Think back to all the times you were employed by someone who teetered on the disorderly side of things. Now compare that to how you felt in past experiences where you worked on a team that had excellent leadership with proper support and delegation in motion. The latter was just better, wasn’t it? By taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to delegation, managers can effectively lead their project and team toward success simply due to the fact that there’s a positive structure and order in play.
Here are the numerous benefits successful delegation can pose to a team:
1. Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Delegating tasks allows your team to make better use of their time and expertise. When tasks are assigned to the right individuals, they can be completed more quickly and accurately, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. Additionally, delegation helps reduce redundancies and bottlenecks, streamlining processes and workflows.
Imagine what a waste of time it would be if two team members were unknowingly working on the same task, separately, or how sloppy things could get if no one knew who was handling the analytics of XYZ.
2. Enhanced Team Member Engagement and Satisfaction
Most of us value having a purpose and working in alignment with it. When team members are given tasks that match their skills and interests, they are more likely to feel engaged and satisfied in their work, thus, yielding a job well done. Delegation also provides opportunities for professional growth and development, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.
With happier employees, you’ll likely see the team outperforming your expectations.
3. Improved Decision-Making and Problem-Solving
Knowing when and how to be decisive is a skill that many have, but don’t feel empowered to use, especially when working a role where they are directly reporting to a manager. But effective delegation fosters an environment in which your team members feel ready to make decisions and solve problems. This is because they have a good sense of what their manager trusts them with, and are aware that with good performance, that trust and agency is continuously growing.
Delegation creates a more collaborative atmosphere, encouraging open communication and creative thinking — As a result, your team can tackle more challenging projects and make better decisions.
4. Greater Capacity for Innovation and Strategic Thinking
As a manager, delegation enables you to concentrate on the big picture, ensuring that your organization remains agile and competitive in a constantly evolving marketplace. By delegating routine tasks (things that are recurring), your team can work in a steady flow creating more time to focus on high-level strategic initiatives and explore new opportunities for growth and innovation.
Why is Delegation Crucial for Managers and Leaders?
At this point, it might be obvious: Effective delegation is considered crucial for managers and leaders. By delegating tasks, leaders and busy professionals can have someone manage their emails, schedule meetings and coordinate travel arrangements. Not only does it enable them to manage their workload and free up their time to focus on high-priority tasks and strategic planning, but it fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment amongst team members, preparing them for future leadership roles. Successful delegation is a win-win situation for everyone, leading to increased efficiency, improved team morale, and enhanced professional growth. Do you feel like this could apply to you in your current leadership role? Below we’ve broken down key reasons as to why delegation is so crucial.
1. Reduces Workload and Stress
There are only so many hours in a day. Plus, it’s a total myth that managers should be working long, unruly hours. By delegating tasks to team members, you can reduce your workload and alleviate stress. This enables you to focus on high-priority tasks and strategic initiatives, ensuring that you remain effective and efficient in their roles. After all, what’s the point of having a team if you’re just doing everything yourself?
2. Facilitates Better Time Management and Prioritization
Building off of the above idea, effective delegation allows you to prioritize your workload and manage your time more effectively. You’ve surely heard the idiom, “You’ve got bigger fish to fry.” By delegating tasks, you can focus on high-priority activities and ensure that key objectives are met in a timely manner.
3. Empowers Team Members and Promotes Professional Growth
Delegating tasks to team members empowers them to take on new challenges and responsibilities, promoting professional growth and development. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, enhanced skills, and a greater sense of ownership and accountability. A happy team is a successful team!
4. Encourages Collaboration and Team Cohesion
Delegation fosters a collaborative work environment in which team members feel valued and supported. By assigning tasks based on individual strengths and expertise, managers can create a sense of unity and cohesion within the team, leading to increased collaboration and improved overall performance. Dare we say, it’s kind of like The Avengers.
What are Common Barriers to Effective Delegation?
Although delegation is essential, it comes with some barriers that you may find challenging. Whether you are new to your leadership role and are still adjusting to how managers operate, or you just have never considered why delegation is so important, it can be tough to completely restructure your managerial approach. Especially when your team already has a sense of how you operate. But the good news is that this doesn’t mean that mastering the art of delegation is out of reach. The first step is always awareness.
Here are ways to recognize such blocks:
1. Fear of Losing Control and Lack of Trust in Team Members
Managers and leaders may be hesitant to delegate tasks due to a fear of losing control over the project or outcome. This can stem from a lack of trust in team members or a belief that they are the only ones capable of completing the task to the desired standard. As a result, they might try to watch too closely or just do everything themselves. You’re going to want to steer clear of this tendency (more on how, later) because it will only create tension and resentment between you and your team. They want to feel valued and needed, just the same way you want to be respected and revered in your role.
2. Inability to Identify Suitable Tasks for Delegation
Delegating tasks can be a daunting job for some managers, especially when it comes to deciding which tasks should be delegated and which ones should remain under their direct control. Who’s suitable to take on what? Does anyone actually know how to do this? Will it be faster if I just do it? You might be scratching your head wondering these things from time to time, or maybe all the time, and that’s preventing you from allowing your team to do their job.
3. Insufficient Guidance and Support for Delegated Tasks
On the contrary, managers may delegate tasks without providing adequate guidance or support, leading to confusion or poor outcomes. This usually happens when, as a manager, you assume that the people around you think exactly the same way that you do. It would be nice if we were all mind readers when it comes to things like this, but given reality, a lack of communication will lead to scanty results. In order for your team to give you the results you are expecting, you’ll need to be very clear on what is required of them.
How to Overcome Common Delegation Challenges
You might have identified with the above roadblocks when it comes to delegation, and that’s okay. Even the biggest, most successful people in the world don’t have it all figured out. Weaknesses are natural and, with the right effort, can be transformed into strengths. If delegating tasks doesn’t come naturally to you or you aren’t used to giving up control, consider these seven tips:
1. Address the Fear of Losing Control
You can overcome the fear of losing control by practicing trust, setting clear expectations, and focusing on outcomes rather than processes, but the most critical aspect to addressing this fear is understanding what it means to be a manager or leader. You might have once been a high performer in a previous position, and that’s what landed you a job as a leader. That’s great, but it is tempting to hold onto your previous responsibilities.
Managerial roles are not about personal achievement, but are based on the broader picture: overall success as a team. Think of yourself as an orchestrator, responsible for stringing ideas together and bringing a team from point A to point Z. When in doubt, remind yourself that proper delegation is a key component of effective leadership.
2. Deal with the Reluctance to Delegate Critical Tasks
For certain things, you might think it’s safer if you just do it yourself. To address hesitation while assigning tasks, provide comprehensive training so you know that the work is in good hands, and maintain open communication channels. When employees feel that they are in a safe space for questions, you’ll feel more connected to the process and will be able to see how things are progressing. This will create a strong and synergetic support system within the team.
3. Evaluate the Priority of Each Task
Take a moment to break things down. Look at how you create your monthly schedule and flag items that are more urgent. A rule of thumb is to prioritize tasks based on importance and deadline, and de-prioritize the items that can sit untouched for a bit longer. If anything sticks out as a large project, pull it aside and break it down into smaller things that can each be checked off your list. Once that’s all set, identify those tasks that can be delegated without compromising quality or control.
4. Communicate the “What” and the “Why”
To ensure successful delegation, make sure you are clearly communicating your expectations and providing the necessary resources and support to help team members succeed in their assigned tasks. Beyond the details of what you are looking for, it’s also highly beneficial to clarify the “why.” Help your team understand the importance of the tasks at hand so that they can grasp the larger picture.
5. Encourage Team Members to Take Ownership
Promote ownership by delegating tasks that align with team members’ skills, offering autonomy, and fostering a sense of responsibility. Your team will feel so much more important. Plus, this is synergistic as it will also help ease your stress if you struggle with control or trust.
6. Set Meetings to Touch Base
A manager or leader who checks in on the progress of tasks too frequently risks being dubbed a micromanager. Although it’s tempting to keep a close eye on everything being done, schedule something like weekly meetings at the start of the project so you and your team can share updates in an orderly and expected way. In accordance with this meeting, consider getting a project manager to draft weekly to-do lists. Bonus: these combined will place accountability on everyone involved.
7. Recognize and Celebrate Efforts
Be open about recognizing your team members’ individual and collective contributions. Highlight them openly in a meeting or email, and make sure everyone gets moments of appreciation. While constructive criticism and edits are essential (and encouraged), praise is equally needed in order to keep your team feeling valued. As a result you’ll be leading a dedicated and motivated cohort.
How To Identify the Right Tasks to Delegate
Now that you’ve reflected on where there may be roadblocks, and hopefully worked through them, it’s time to consider what actually needs to be assigned out. (It’s good to identify this before building a team so you know exactly who is needed to complete the jobs). To determine which tasks to delegate, managers and leaders should:
- List all tasks and responsibilities
- Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency
- Identify tasks that can be delegated without compromising quality or control
- Have a clear process or procedure for completion, with set deadlines
- Offer opportunities for team member development and growth
Recognizing Tasks That Should Not Be Delegated
Of course it’s important to establish what shouldn’t be delegated. There are some jobs that are just better suited for a business owner or manager, and passing it down to someone with less experience can be detrimental to the success of a business. Tasks that should not be delegated include:
- High-stakes decision-making
- Confidential or sensitive information handling
- Performance evaluations and disciplinary actions
Selecting the Appropriate Team Members
Before you can delegate anything to anyone, you’ll need a team. Whether you are a business owner looking for staff or a busy professional in need of a dedicated virtual assistant, selecting individuals who align with your needs is crucial. Take the time to vet several candidates and do proper background checks. Beyond that, it’s important to measure prospects on their character and whether or not they’ll work well with you. It’s a good idea to consult talent recruitment agencies or research different VA providers, as they know the ins and outs of what it takes to hire the right person.
Analyzing Team Members’ Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the reasons you’ve hired multiple employees is because everyone has a unique skillset. Through a combination of hard and soft skills, professionals can all bring something slightly different to the table. Take the time to evaluate who you are working with and get to know each person personally.
To get a well rounded understanding of what to expect from each team member, walk yourself through the below list of starting points.
- Assess individual skills, experience, and expertise
- Understand each team member’s preferred working style
- Consider their past performance and reliability
Matching Tasks with the Right Skill Sets
Each and every one of your team members is surely skilled. But how do you know which person is the best match for a delegated task?
Here’s how to match a team member’s skill set with an aligned delegated task:
- Identifying the required skills for each task
- Evaluating team members’ abilities and expertise
- Assigning tasks based on the best fit for success
Considering Workload Distribution and Balance
Balance is the key to life and should be handled with intention. Evaluate what it is that you need help with. Is it a one person job? Will it require a team of five individuals? Measuring the tasks at hand and amount of time you’d like poured into each one is how you’ll establish a fair workload distribution. As a manager or leader, you should always promote fairness and prevent burnout, as you wouldn’t want your employees to suffer — especially on your account.
Here’s how to manage balance:
- Monitor workload distribution among team members
- Ensure delegated tasks are evenly distributed
- Reassign tasks as necessary to maintain balance
11 Expert Tips for Effective Delegation
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of delegating, the common barriers, and identified what actually requires delegation and what doesn’t, let’s take a look at how to achieve the results you’re looking for. The best approaches to take are often the ones that are simple: take a step back, look at the basics, set goals, communicate openly, and embrace the concept of delegation.
Whether you are a busy professional looking to make the most out of your virtual executive assistant or are managing a well-rounded team, here are some expert-approved tips for high-caliber delegation.
1. Embrace the Value of Delegation
Recognize the benefits of delegation, such as increased efficiency, improved team morale, and enhanced professional growth. By entrusting your virtual executive assistant with specific tasks, you can focus on your core responsibilities and achieve a better work-life balance. You’ll probably begin to wonder how you ever functioned without delegating.
2. Set Clear Goals and Priorities
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set the tone of what’s achievable. Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for delegated tasks, ensuring that your virtual executive assistant understands their objectives and priorities. Clearly communicate the desired outcomes and deadlines, enabling your team to work efficiently and independently.
3. Provide Detailed Instructions and Expectations
Don’t be afraid to offer guidance. Clearly outline task objectives, deadlines, and desired outcomes to set your virtual executive assistant up for success. By providing detailed instructions, you minimize the risk of misunderstandings and ensure that your employees’ work aligns with your expectations.
4. Delegate Tasks Based on Individual Strengths
Doesn’t it feel great when someone comes to you with a job or question that fits perfectly with your expertise? Match tasks with your virtual executive assistant’s skills, experiences, and prowess to optimize productivity and satisfaction. This enables them to take on responsibilities with confidence, resulting in higher quality work and a more streamlined workflow.
5. Establish Open Lines of Communication
Encourage ongoing dialogue and provide a supportive environment for your virtual executive assistant to ask questions, seek clarification, and offer feedback. Open communication fosters trust and collaboration, leading to a more effective partnership.
6. Invest in Team Member Development and Training
Provide training, resources, and opportunities for professional growth to build your virtual executive assistant’s capabilities and confidence. This investment not only strengthens their skill set but also demonstrates your commitment to their success, fostering a positive working relationship.
7. Monitor Progress and Provide Constructive Feedback
Regularly review progress, offer guidance, and provide constructive feedback to ensure delegated tasks stay on track. Ideally, you should address any concerns or roadblocks in the moment and adjust expectations as needed to maintain a healthy and productive working relationship. This way you are fine tuning things along the way — before it’s too late.
8. Practice Letting Go and Trusting Your Team
Overcome the fear of losing control by empowering your team members and trusting them to deliver results. The more valued they feel, the more spectacularly they’ll perform. Letting go of control is easier said than done, however, so we recommend using an outcome-oriented approach to delegation. Ultimately, focus on the results rather than micromanaging the process in order to foster a sense of ownership and autonomy within your team.
9. Trust but Verify: Balancing Trust and Oversight
While it is vital that you trust your team members to complete tasks effectively, maintaining a level of oversight is important to ensure accountability and quality control. After all, that is a part of your leadership role. It’s a fine line, but you’ll improve on this one with time and practice.
10. Recognize and Reward Success
Every human needs to feel recognized from time to time. Don’t forget to acknowledge your virtual executive assistant’s accomplishments — that’s the key to hosting a productive and motivated team! Celebrate the achievements of team members via email or in meetings to reinforce the value of delegation and promote a culture of excellence.
11. Continuously Evaluate and Refine Your Delegation Approach
Delegation is a nuanced thing that works differently in each situation, so your approach needs constant fine tuning. Regularly assess your delegation strategy, identify areas for improvement, and make adjustments as needed to optimize effectiveness.
The Long-Term Benefits of Successful Delegation
If you stick to practicing effective delegation, you’ll most definitely see positive results over time. That’s because delegation creates a work environment that fosters good morale, teamwork, and success. It creates an environment that thrives off of everyone knowing their role and performing to the highest of their ability. What’s more, successful delegation over a long period of time creates momentum, and before you know it, delegating will be second-nature and be considered “the norm” in your company. Here are some of its long-term benefits in detail:
1. Enhanced Team Productivity and Efficiency
Effective delegation streamlines workflows, maximizes resource utilization, and increases overall productivity. Things will get done with so much finesse and ease since multiple aspects of the project will be in go-mode at the same time.
2. Improved Team Member Satisfaction and Engagement
Once you’ve gotten into a groove of spreading out tasks amongst a team, you’ll likely notice a better bond amongst colleagues. This is ideal for creating a strong workforce. What’s more, delegated tasks provide opportunities for professional growth, and hey, who doesn’t love adding accolades to their LinkedIn profile?
3. Increased Capacity for Strategic Thinking and Innovation
Delegating routine tasks frees up your time as a manager, giving you the capacity to focus on high-level strategic initiatives and foster a culture of innovation. Over time there’s going to be more advanced and elevated ideas swirling through your mind and, because you’re now so good at delegating, they’ll come to fruition with ease.
Master The Art Of Delegation Today!
Mastering the art of delegation is essential for you as a manager and leader, especially if you want to optimize your team’s performance and foster a culture of growth and success. By understanding the importance of delegation, identifying the right tasks and team members, and implementing expert tips, you can unlock your time and your team’s full potential. Embrace delegation as a powerful tool for success and continue your journey of learning and development with additional resources and training opportunities.