As a professional, you can only juggle so many tasks at a given time before you begin forgetting significant items on your to-do list. While we often associate taking on more responsibilities as being hard-working or motivated, the quality of work we produce can begin to decline if we bite off more than we can chew. Therefore, delegation is a critical element of effective leadership, and delegating important tasks to trusted colleagues is a great way to alleviate an overwhelming workload.
Delegation is not always easy, and miscommunication is the number one culprit of unmet expectations. Have you ever asked one of your employees or mentees to take control of a project, and have you ever become frustrated when they come back to you not having done what you asked? You’re not alone. This is a common situation that can easily be avoided with more explicit instructions and expectations.
Clear instructions can be deployed to easily avoid the headaches that can result from delegation. As a leader, you must clearly communicate what is expected of your direct reports, and you should always encourage them to ask questions and confirm that the request was communicated clearly.
Here are a few steps to ensuring that you are delegating work effectively, and that important projects are completed correctly the first time.
Step 1: Choose the Right Communication Vehicle
Every person is different. If the person you are delegating tasks to prefers instruction in written form, send them a detailed email with expectations, directions and a deadline. Follow-up with a verbal confirmation that your message was understood and communicated, and ask if they require any further information or direction. On the other hand, if the person you are delegating to prefers in-person communication and instruction, put some time on their calendar to comb through all of the details, and follow-up with an email, detailing the points of your discussion.
Step 2: Provide the Needed Information
If you decide to delegate some of your work to another person, you should ensure that you also provide them any needed information that is needed to be successful. You cannot give them a piece of the puzzle and expect them to read your mind, and if you want a project completed in a specific way, don’t be afraid to communicate what your expectation are. Provide any necessary points of contact, research or support that they will need in order to reach the optimal conclusion.
Step 3: Leave Your Door Open
The worst thing you can do as a leader is handing off an important project and failing to make yourself available for further direction should it arise. You should expect your employees to be able to understand a plan, run with it and deliver the desired results, but questions will often arise, even for the most independent and resourceful worker. Leave your door open to questions if they are needed. If an employee is not catching on after sufficient direction has been given, it might be time to reassign the task to someone else on the team who might have a more appropriate skill-set for the task.
Are you taking these steps in your leadership position? If not, give them a test drive today. We should all aim to cultivate effective and efficient teams, and if you are not following steps to ensure your team is operating at an optimal level, this is the perfect time to start employing new tactics.
As a leader, how are you clearly defining the requirements when delegating a task? Leave your comments below!