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3 ways to delegate effectively

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Becoming a manager, responsible for people and their development, is a very rewarding, motivating, and career-changing role. Being someone who inspires their team, who is respected by their colleagues, and who makes a positive impact on others should be the end goal of everyone with that title. Newly appointed managers, looking forward to embodying the appropriate values of a leader, tend to work long hours want to be involved in every part of the process, and often end up micromanaging.

This usually leads them to burnout, mental health struggles, and issues with productivity. However, in this situation which happens so often, lies an opportunity. The best way to overcome this obstacle isn’t by working more, it’s by working smarter. Instead of focusing on you, focus on others - and start delegating.

Why is delegating so important?

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that the leader will have less to do. And, of course, that is the obvious benefit. But it’s far from being the only one. Delegating instills trust in your team members, which is crucial for team bonding, and establishing a solid foundation for future development. It allows your colleagues to respect your authority, learn a new skill, practice cooperation and work on their communication. It helps drive their development, making the team stronger as a unit, while also allowing the leader to operate from a position not of power, but of respect. There are no downsides to delegating, but in order the get the full benefits, you must do it right!

Three core elements of delegating

Delegating seems like an easy task, and it certainly is, once you get a hang of it. The best way to make sure that you are doing it right is to educate yourself on the necessary aspects of the delegation process. Regardless of the relationship, type of task, or any other determinant, there are three key elements of delegation - responsibility, authority, and accountability.

Responsibility is the easiest element since it entails the simple act of performing a duty that you have been assigned by your superior. The mere act of assigning a task means a transfer of responsibility, to a team member. Of course, it can also be done by a peer, especially in a team-based environment, where everyone has a specific role.

The second element, authority, means the power to make decisions. It can, as well as responsibility, be delegated to someone else. This element is crucial for managers and leaders, and although responsibility is easily gained, authority usually takes a while. On the plus side, once gained, it can last indefinitely.

The third element and the only one that can’t be transferred is accountability. If a team leader chooses to delegate some of their tasks to team members, they will become responsible for them, they will have the authority to do them, but the accountability will remain with the team leader. This is also the most common reason for managers to abandon delegating in fully. However, if done properly, delegating can only improve your business.

How to delegate effectively

To make sure that you are making the most out of it delegating, follow these three steps:

1. Focus on the purpose

The most important question of this, and any other process, is why. Your team members need to know the reasoning behind your decision-making, why it matters to you, and why it should matter to them. Whenever possible they should be included in the decision-making process, so that they can have a visible impact on the outcome. The more aware they are of the purpose, the end goal, and the bigger picture, the easier it will be for them to adapt and to thrive.

2. Communication is key

Once they know the thought process that goes into it, it’s time to communicate the decision with them. How something is going to be done is a crucial step in this process. If an employee feels empowered, listened to, respected, and valued, the delegation will be a normal, everyday occurrence that they look forward to. It makes a very big difference how something is explained to them, which is why this should be taken care of before the final act.

3. You shouldn’t delegate everything

With why and how already established, the only thing that remains is what tasks will actually be delegated. The recommendation is to start with something small, and then slowly increase the complexity and the importance of the task. The employee should be aware of their achievements, the trust placed upon them, and their role in the entire process.

Relieving some of the stress when working as a manager can make a huge difference. It seems like everything needs to be done solely by you, but that isn’t the case. Improve your everyday life and operations by incorporating team members in the decision and the delivery, and you will soon reap the benefits of delegating.

The 1 minute takeaway

When done right, delegating can be tremendously rewarding and also help your business. Delegating is important because it instills trust in your team members, it allows colleagues to learn a new skill, helps drive their development, all while allowing the leader to operate from a position not of power, but of respect.

There are three key elements of delegation - responsibility, authority, and accountability. To delegate effectively you should focus on the purpose, communicate the decision and be mindful about what you delegate.


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