For many people, searching for delegation tips means they are looking for a short cut to free up some time. The real area to improve on is to stop making excuses for not delegating and there are plenty of them. Usually, their reasoning has no actual basis of truth – they just think it does. You’ll get a lot more accomplished if you don’t assume the following statements are true and stop using them as excuses for not delegating:

  • They did a dreadful job last time
  • I like doing all this stuff
  • I can’t trust them to do it
  • I don’t have time to show them how to do it
  • They are already busy
  • They aren’t qualified properly
  • I’m the only person who knows how t o do this
  • I could do a better job myself
  • No one else is available to delegate to

We often spend time assuming the worst of people. We think they don’t want to do what we ask them or that they just won’t be up to the task. Consider changing your approach. we treat people like they can’t do something or don’t want responsibility, that’s how they’ll turn out.

Think about you personally, don’t you want extra responsibility? People want to learn, contribute and achieve something. They can do all of this by doing other tasks. Some short term investment in their development will pay off in the long term. Think about delegation as developing others.

What can you delegate?

The first thing to remember is not to delegate something that doesn’t need doing. Why are you doing it in the first place – just stop doing it. Try to delegate the routine stuff, even if you would rather not. This could include photocopying, collecting information, entering data, preparation of reports etc. Look to delegate things that aren’t part of your core activities or skill set. You can’t be an expert at everything, so delegate out the stuff that takes you longer to do than other people.

Ensure you delegate the authority along with the responsibility. It can be really frustrating for someone to be delegated something to do but have no authority in the process. Give them the decision making power within boundaries you feel comfortable with.

If you think there’s nothing you can delegate, what happens when you’re on holiday or on sick leave or if you had to take an extended leave of absence – is everything going to pile up for you? The more you have the ability to delegate, the more you can enjoy a day or more away from the business. If there’s absolutely something you can’t delegate, then okay but try to keep that list as short as possible.

When you are delegating, have some sort of plan so your delegation isn’t haphazard and remember that the responsibility still lies with you for getting the job done well and properly. Remember that when you delegate something, someone may find a better way of doing it so you may learn something yourself or they may end up doing a better job than you.

Giving Instructions

When you are delegating, ensure that the instructions are clear. You should make sure the person you are delegating to knows the following three key things:

  • What is to be done,
  • When it should be finished by
  • To what degree of quality or detail.

Ask people to provide you with a progress report of how things are going. You may like to give them a cushion deadline where you have some extra time set aside just in case. Consider delegating what the actual objective is rather than the procedure. People can get behind an outcome much more than they can the methodology for doing it. Spread the delegation around. Don’t always give things to the most able person and ask for feedback on how the tasks are going.

To help get the person going, ask the simple questions, “What else do you need to get started?” It’s a great way for them to either tell you what help they need or for them to realise it’s time to get a move on!

If you’d like more information on effective delegation and leadership skills, check out the books and courses on offer at