Easy Ways To Delegate For Your Leadership Development

Sep 04, 2022
Who To Delegate

Who is running you? Are you running things, or is your job or business running you? Let me share with you some easy delegation tips.

Do you feel stressed out and overloaded with too much work? Do you feel like your phone rings all day with questions from your team or that you are fighting fires every day and not getting a lot done? Or does it feel like your career is stalled? If so, you may need to brush up on your delegation skills!

There's only a limited amount that you can do, however hard you work. After all, you can only work so many hours in a day, and there are only so many people you can help. And, because the number of people you can help is limited, your success is limited.


However, the better you are at your job, the more people will expect from you. This can lead to undue pressure and work overload: you can't do everything everyone wants or needs. And this can leave you feeling stressed, unhappy, and starting to burn out with a feeling of diminishing motivation.




One of the most common ways of overcoming this burden is to learn how to delegate your work to others. Good delegators can build solid and successful teams that are more than capable of meeting the demands of a heavy workload. This is why Delegation is such an important skill to learn!

You see, there is always a win-win with Delegation. As you improve your skill and delegate to others, you benefit others by being able to develop as well. This creates a scenario of a well-rounded team with more empowerment and confidence and a more motivated and less stressed you.

This article is excellent for overworked, stressed-out, frustrated executives and managers who have entirely given up on a healthy work-life balance. But wait for it. Maybe there's a way of having less stress, less pressure, and fewer distractions and surprises during the day.


First, let's talk about some of the reasons you are not delegating more.



Why People Don't Delegate

There are many possible reasons why people might be afraid of handing over tasks or responsibilities:

You Are Worried About Dumping Their Work on Others Who Are Already Busy

Just because something is usually a manager's job, it doesn't mean that it can't be done by others (unless it is a specific role requirement or depends on a particular level of authority). What's important is that the work is completed, not who does it. If team members appear to be too busy, it's worthwhile checking what they are busy with. They could be working on low-priority work, in which case their workload could be rearranged to carry out the delegated task first.

Or, there is Parkinson's Law. What is Parkinson's Law? "The job expands to the time allotted." Meaning, in this case, they may appear to be busy but are they? Without concrete guidance and timeline expectations (SMART Goals), they may be filling the day at a pace that works fine for them but keeps you fooled into thinking there is nothing more they can take on.

Delegation is not trying to make more work for your team but to distribute it more efficiently so that tasks get allocated according to skills and workloads. If team members understand this, they'll be happy to contribute to the team effort.


They Feel Threatened

When you consider delegating, you must understand that you will not be handing over your entire job – just specific tasks of specific responsibilities. And it is up to you which ones you hand over. Even if you delegate several tasks, your job will not become redundant. You will still play an essential role in supporting and guiding the team and will always remain ultimately responsible for the work.

And why worry about someone else doing a task better than you? If they can do it well, all the more reason for giving it to them! The aim is to make your team more efficient and effective – and to give others opportunities to use their skills and develop.


You Don't Want to Lose Control.

When work is handed over to others, it will take them time to learn how to do it as well as you. Yes, things will take longer, and quality may be reduced. However, your support, guidance, and patience will quickly overcome these hurdles. Nothing good comes quickly. Different people learn at different paces, and most will not learn the way and at the same pace as you.


You Lose Patience and  Think It Would Be Quicker to Do It Yourself



Everyone takes time to learn something new. The more support they are given at the outset, the more quickly they will be able to do the work themselves. When delegating work, you should ensure that you give clear instructions and provide plenty of check-ins, praise, Feedback, and reassurance to build confidence.


It Seems Like a Lot More Work Than It's Worth

The most significant barrier for owners, executives, and managers to start delegating the workload is thinking about it. Oh my God. It's an additional task. It's more work to have to train. Yeah, it will slow you down, but just for a short period; this is a short-term investment for long-term gain.


Beyond "Putting Out Fires



Most organization leaders are so busy putting out the day-to-day fires that they remain stuck in the rut of doing things the way they have always been done—for better or worse. They never find the needed time to discover new solutions and opportunities that will allow them to rise to the next level of success. They rarely achieve their full potential professionally.      


Whenever I encounter a manager who is permanently "putting out fires," who repeatedly reschedules meetings, or who has a hard time finding any time even to schedule important appointments, I can tell that the person is highly ineffective at delegating.

Good delegation skills allow you to apply your energy and attention to what is most important or, in other words, your priorities and not EVERYTHING. If you can't prioritize, you won't use your time in the ways you could be for high-level performance and low-level stress.

Most organization leaders ignore that principle. They are always functioning overload, working many more hours than they want, and never getting ahead (or getting ahead much too slowly). They spend too much time discussing things or fulfilling unnecessary commitments, which keeps them from focusing on what is truly important to create the success and happiness they desire.    

The good news is that you can overcome the typical delegation obstacles that keep you from achieving Results-Driven outcomes. However, this requires commitment and effort. Let's look at each of the most common tools and approaches to Effective Delegation.




When to Delegate

Delegation is a force multiplier when done appropriately. However, that does not mean that you can delegate just anything. To determine when delegating a task is most appropriate, there are five key questions you need to ask yourself:

1. Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task?

 Is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself? Think about this as a motivator. What do you make per hour? Ever think about that? Well, I suggest you know what you are paying yourself or being paid per hour because that is significant information to have. When you are doing the work that you are so accustomed to and expeditious to complete, think about how much you are paying yourself per hour to complete it. Is that task really worth that rate of pay? If not, delegate it to someone making a rate more in line with the value of the task. Or outsource it.

Then If you are not performing that task, what higher-value responsibilities can you be completing instead? Working on your business versus in your business, as the business mindset states. These are your Platinum activities, and you want to allow yourself to spend as much time here as possible.

Here's a tip. For one week, follow this assignment. Stop periodically for just a second and think to yourself during each day.

  • Who else besides me could be doing this task?
  • Am I good at or do I like doing this task?
  • Is this task worthy of my time?
  • Whom can I train to begin performing this task?

Make a few notes on your thoughts. By the end of the week, I assure you that you will have found dozens of duties you don't have to perform.

You can then create a strategy to train other identified people who could begin completing the specified tasks. Using your list of tasks and people, prioritize what you want to start offloading onto someone else. Then begin training the individuals you identified who could perform it.



2. Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person's skills?

The answer to this is almost always yes, but it is crucial because one-off duties may not be the best thing to delegate unless there is some element from the Delegation that can be built on later. Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future? Keep in mind that in today's work culture, one of the top reasons employees quit is because they don't feel like they are being developed. They are not growing and learning!



3. Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively?

Time must be available for adequate training, questions, and answers, opportunities to check progress, and rework if necessary. Managing the timeline and not waiting to the point that you are in a crunch to complete is not a good time to delegate. Plan ahead and plan the time needed to train and rework. The time to do this will seldom present itself. You have to make time to train for delegation.

This goes back to what keeps so many managers, executives, and business owners from delegating. I'm betting that out of a 50-hour plus work week, you can find an hour or two per month to devote to training for delegation. Keep in mind the concept of compounded return on investment here!



4. Is this a task that I should delegate?

Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely need your attention.

If you can answer "yes" to at least some of the above questions, delegating this job could well be worth delegating. You also need to consider to whom you will delegate the task and how you will do it.


To Whom Should You Delegate?

The factors to consider here include:

  • The experience, knowledge, and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task. Do they have some passion and aptitude to complete the tasks correctly?
  • What knowledge, skills, behavioral profile, and attitude does the person already have?
  • Do you have the time and resources to provide any training needed?
  • Do they have the right behavioral profile to do the job? Attention to detail? Communication style? Ability to figure things out without a lot of direction?
  • What are their long-term goals and interests, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  • The current workload of this person.


How Should You Delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully:

  • Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task because they have the most intimate knowledge of everyday work.
  • Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the project's success through ongoing communication and monitoring.
  • Focus on results. Concern yourself with what is accomplished rather than detailing how the work should be done: Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way! Allow the person to control their own methods and processes. This facilitates success and trust.
  • Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where deserved.
  • Establish and maintain involvement with scheduled check-ins to monitor progress.
  • Use SMART Goals with timelines.
  • Make adjustments as necessary.


You will find that you delegate more successfully in thoroughly considering these key points before and during the delegation process.


Lastly, make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur and that it is safe to come to you for questions and discussions. You must be an open resource and available for any questions or guidance as the work progresses.

Be careful not to micromanage. However, this doesn't mean that you must surrender control altogether. In delegating effectively, you have to achieve a careful balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities to the best effect while monitoring and supporting them closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.



The Importance of Full Acceptance

When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, complete work. If you accept work you aren't satisfied with, your team member won't learn how to do the job correctly.

To make matters worse, you want them to make the corrections and do it right. Please don't get frustrated; take it back and create a whole new tranche of work to complete yourself. Doing this, which is very common, is counter to what you are trying to accomplish.


Of course, when good work is returned to you, recognize and reward the effort. As a leader, you should complement your team members every time you are impressed by what they have done. Set how you would have personally completed the task aside. Get your ego out of the way. Recognize that they did a good or even adequate job knowing that with practice, they will get better and better. This means you should give them this responsibility long-term to build the kinesthetic knowledge of mastery. We learn by doing!!!


This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team members' self-confidence and efficiency, both of which will be improved on the next delegated task. Hence, you both win.

Major Key Point

There are Four Tenants of Teaching Someone

  1. Tell Them How to Do It
  2. Show them How to Do It
  3. Have them Do It
  4. Give them Feedback

Where Delegation often goes wrong is in these four tenants. Most managers, when delegating, go with the flawed approach of not using all of these. Often number four is left out. Monitor them and give them feedback along the way. This allows for correction and a lack of disappointment as a surprise in the end.


At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it's worth. However, delegating effectively can expand your team's output and skillset. To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the best people for the job, and support them along the way.

You'll have to get uncomfortable to learn to be a better delegator. I've been training this for years, and I know it has changed lives, and I've got the testimonials to prove it. This approach will help start the process of changing who runs your day.



Like Ricky, Bobby said, in Talladega Nights, sometimes you have to slow down to go fast; look at it as an investment of your time with proper investment in the right person. You'll be running more quickly than ever and operate with less stress and a clearer mind at work.

You will become more focused and do a better job on the most critical responsibilities—less working in your business versus on your business.

Results-Driven Managers connect what is happening at work with personal life. You must find a balance that eliminates once and for all the problem of working crazy hours and feeling like you don't have a home life at all.

With too many tasks, you can quickly become distracted from the focus you need to lead strategically and accomplish your goals. I often tell managers who are perpetually "putting out fires" that this lack of strategic direction is how the "fires" start!

Learning to delegate responsibility when you have too much on your plate will help you avoid moving from fire to fire, day after day after day. Great time managers discipline themselves against assuming more tasks than they can handle. They delegate to others whenever possible, especially in those areas that do not fit their business strengths.

 By not delegating more and burning yourself out, what good are you doing for your company? Yes, you will gain the reputation of a hard worker. However, you create a culture that is overly dependent on you and impossible to scale.

Every highly accomplished leader's goal is to make themselves dispensable. Whoa, think about that. Strive for a plan where your team does not have to have you. You have created a self-supporting squad that if you were hit by a bus tomorrow, they would miss you, but nothing much would change at work.

Lay off some of that work, and you will soon realize the win-win comes from focusing more of your energy on your team's development, reducing your workload, and contributing to the company's long-term growth.


About the author:

Vaughn is the co-founder of Results-Driven Leadership. He is a leadership development expert, podcaster, and author. His methods are brought from his real-world experience working on the front lines and living the role of being a high-impact leader and manager. His coaching and training programs offer no theory, just common-sense advice and direction. He is a former executive with CarMax, the world's largest and most respected company in the auto industry, and is a Fortune 100 Best Places to Work.

Vaughn's mission is to improve the impact of executives and other managers by increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

His motto is "No matter what business you're in, you're in the people business."

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