What’s on your plate today… this month… this year? If you’re like many of us, your answer may be: “too much.” But take a look around, and perhaps you’ll see qualified, intelligent people that could benefit from the experience of taking on one of those projects or responsibilities. If those people have the time, ability, and inclination, you may be able to delegate a project from your to-do list to one of them.

By delegating tasks, you provide others with the opportunity to stretch their wings, learn some new skills, and gain confidence in their ability to conquer new challenges. Delegation can also provide them with encouragement: you’ve recognized their potential and hard work, and you’ve rewarded it with a chance to prove what you believe they’re capable of. And, as you guide someone in this act of taking on a new role or responsibility, you’ll flex your own leadership muscles.

In Building Management Skills: An Action-First Approach, Richard L. Daft and Dorothy Marcic provide guidelines that describe the steps you should take to delegate effectively. We’ve created a list of do’s and dont’s based on their recommendations:

 

  • Do identify projects or tasks that you could potentially hand off to another person.
  • Do match up the person with the project; don’t simply match an available person with an available task. For example: if the person has strong organizational skills, consider asking him or her to coordinate a meeting; if the person is an exceptionally good writer, perhaps he or she can take on a newsletter or report.
  • Do identify explicit outcomes for your project and clearly communicate them to your “delegate.” Mutually decide on how the results of the project can be measured against those established outcomes.
  • Do give responsibility for the entire task to the “delegate.” (Don’t be afraid to allow him or her to feel challenged; the stretch is part of the learning experience.)
  • Do make yourself available as a resource. Make sure all needed materials are available, answer any questions your delegate may have, and provide encouragement along the way.
  • Do establish and agree upon a deadline.
  • Do occasionally check in on the project’s progress—but don’t hover, micromanage, or take the reins at the slightest hint of a struggle.
  • Do set up time to meet with your delegate on the due date. This helps ensure accountability.   
  • Do reconvene to review the work process and the results. Consider what went well, recognize the successes, and analyze what steps could be taken to correct or avoid future missteps. (349-350)

 

Reference: Daft, Richard L. and Marcic, Dorothy. 2014. Building Management Skills: An Action-First Approach. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

 

Have you delegated tasks to others in your department or organization? How did it go? What recommendations would you offer to someone who’s hoping to delegate work to others? Share your ideas and experiences below.