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Learn to Delegate Tasks Like a Pro

There’s a fine line between being a working manager and a micromanager. You worked hard to get to this level in your career and as the leader of a team, you’re responsible for its success. As a result, it can be hard to let go of the reins and parse out tasks to your team members. By being a good delegator, you can free up your own time and energy up to tackle more strategic, bigger-picture issues that may hinder your team’s goals. Learning to delegate tasks like a pro will help ensure you and your team’s future success. Here’s what you need to do. 

The first, and probably most important step, is to know what to delegate. There’s any number of criteria that you can use to decide, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer. Depending on the project, the type of work you delegate can change. For example, it makes sense (most of the time) to delegate tasks that are small and/or tedious. You’re a leader because your time is best spent working on higher-level projects. Performing detailed work normally doesn’t make sense, and can best be delegated to someone on your team. The real trick to being great at delegating is to keep in mind that it can provide an opportunity to develop others. You may have an employee who wants to gain more experience working with customers, so putting together sales or presentation materials specific to a client will help them gain the experience they need. At other times, it may be good to admit that you aren’t a jack of all trades. Delegating work that you are terrible at can allow a team member to develop a specialty or niche and contribute at a higher level.

Once a task or project is given to a member of your team, it’s essential to empower that individual. A great leader doesn’t dictate how something should be completed or approached, and you certainly shouldn’t lead your team to the answer you’d like to see. To be sure you’re giving your team the tools they need to be successful in the long run, ask them questions instead of giving instructions. Present them with the problem at hand and ask if they need clarification before they begin. Find out how they plan on approaching the situation. Provide feedback and guidance along the way. It’s also important to offer yourself up as a resource whenever the employee needs help. You want your team to know that you’re available as a sounding board and they shouldn’t be afraid of being judged.

Lastly, to close the process loop, a great leader and delegator gives recognition and targeted feedback once a task is complete. Employees don’t often receive positive comments on work they perform on an everyday basis. Sure, there’s an expectation that employees should bring their best effort to work, regardless of the task at hand, but recognition doesn’t have to be extraordinary; simply calling out great work can be a great motivator and contribute to higher levels of engagement among your team. Even if the work is great, there’s still an opportunity to provide positive and constructive feedback on how the individual’s approach, process, analysis, or style can be improved for the future. 

There are benefits to delegating tasks; not only will it free up your time to work on exciting, high-level initiatives, it can empower your team and improve performance over time. The key is being able to define the types of tasks that should be delegated, while understanding and communicating the benefit to the team member, giving them the freedom to problem solve, and recognising great work. By being available and open to their perspectives, both your team, and the organisation, will be better off.