To delegate effectively, managers need to be intentional about the work that only they need to do and create clarity for their team on the rest. They have to learn to invest in those around them by letting go of control. Giving up control can feel hard, but it’s also necessary for growth.
1. SHIFT FROM DOING TO LEADING
Effective delegation requires letting go of control and it starts with a big mindset shift. Don’t stretch your own limits, stretch the limits of your team. Shift your mindset from doing to leading others. From generating an outcome yourself to helping others achieve the same outcome. From practicing the skills that got you here to investing in building the same skills in others so that they can do it too. Build fault tolerance in your mind and attitude.
2. MAP RIGHT PROBLEMS TO RIGHT PEOPLE
Picking the right person is the crucial part of getting the job done well. It’s not always the person who can do it best. You need to ask yourself – who needs this opportunity right now? Who needs to practice these skills? Who might seem interested to take on this challenge? Who actually has the bandwidth? Once you are able to identify the parts that only you can do, identify ways to delegate the rest. Map people to different areas based on their strengths, the opportunities they need or the skills they have been looking to practice.
3. DELEGATE PROBLEMS, NOT SOLUTIONS
Managers fail to delegate effectively when they pass on the opportunity but refuse to give the autonomy that goes with it. They share the “what,” but hold on to the “how.” To delegate effectively, focus on the results and not the methods. Think in terms of the final outcomes you desire and not the specific tasks someone needs to do to achieve it. When you define the outcome clearly, but empower others to implement their own solutions, they aren’t restricted to one way of doing things. Giving people a choice of method also makes them feel responsible for results.
4. DELEGATE, DON’T ABDICATE
Empowerment does not mean boundary less freedom. You cannot be too hands off and expect people to figure everything out on their own. People need support to feel empowered. Leaving them to struggle and figure everything out on their own leads to frustration, adds to confusion and lack of support can make them feel helpless. They need your support along the way. Involved too much? You run the risk of micromanagement. Involved too little? It can make you miss those critical moments where your support or advice could have made a difference. The magic is in the balance.
5. INCORPORATE FEEDBACK LOOP
The only way to know where you stand and what you can do to improve is to incorporate feedback from the process. Spend some review time with your team: Did they understand the problem clearly? Were they empowered to solve it? Did they get the context and support required to solve it effectively? What were they missing? What can be done better? What’s going well and how can it be improved? What should you absolutely stop doing? What should you start doing to make delegation more effective? What part of delegation doesn’t work and needs a new strategy to make it more effective?