6 Tips to Improve Your Delegation Skills

DelegateWhen you run your own business, it’s tempting to take on every responsibility. There are many reasons for doing so: because you want something done a specific way, because you don’t have the time to explain how to do it, or because you’re not sure someone else can handle the task.

Delegating saves you valuable time and energy. Sharing duties with your team also fosters a sense of responsibility, engages them and helps them develop their skills.

Here are six tips to help you improve your delegation skills.

1. Know when to delegate

If you’re like many people, you hold onto as many tasks as you can and only begin delegating once you feel too busy or worn out to take on another thing. It’s good to get used to delegating before you become burned out, so you can more appropriately and effectively choose which tasks should be handed off to others. You may have to begin by delegating small, low-stakes tasks, especially if delegation makes you uncomfortable.

Here are questions to ask before you delegate:

  • Is it vital that you do the task yourself (be honest about this–do you really have to be the person to take this on)?
  • Is there someone else who has the relevant skills, experience or interests to take it on?
  • Is there someone else keen to do it?
  • Do you have time to give detailed information about the task?
  • Are you available to monitor progress?

2. Match the task to the appropriate person

Often, business owners delegate a task by finding someone who has time to do it. Just as you have your strengths, so do your team members. When you delegate, make sure to take into account the person who is most suited to it based on their skills, their level of knowledge or experience, and their interests. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t push someone into a task they have no experience or interest in.

3. Make sure the delegated individual understands what’s being asked of them

You may understand what needs to be done but your team may not. Spend time with those involved to ensure they’re onboard as well. They need to know the goals or objectives, how the task is to be accomplished, what success looks like, and your expectations.

4. Communicate openly

Leave room for your team members to come back with questions or concerns. Follow up with them yourself to see how they’re progressing and what support they need. Address any challenges they have and celebrate their successes. If there are milestones or delivery deadlines, check periodically to make sure all activities are still on track.

5. Coach employees through barriers

Where possible, avoid taking a task back. It’s tempting to step in when they encounter an obstacle, especially when an activity is time-sensitive. Doing so prevents them from learning or growing. Instead, coach your team members through their challenges. Make sure they have the support and knowledge needed to complete their task.

6. Encourage feedback

When you delegate, it’s important to follow up with constructive feedback that celebrates what worked well and provides insights for improvement. Be prepared to accept feedback. Your team might have ideas about how the activity could have gone more smoothly–perhaps with more thorough instructions or by delegating to someone else.

Delegating tasks to others is a great way to help them develop their skills and knowledge while taking responsibility off your hands. If delegation is difficult for you, it’s worthwhile to consider what’s holding you back and work to overcome your hesitations.

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