By Kayla Matthews
Delegation happens when you give at least one task to other people to handle. Many business professionals are reluctant to delegate because they want to remain in total control of their responsibilities. It’s natural to feel that way at first, but once you learn about the importance of delegation and the benefits it can bring to yourself and others, you should be more likely to engage in it.
1. Delegate in Ways That Maximize Your Value
When thinking about things you could do that could help you earn more, the things that come to mind are likely self-development or making sure your superiors know you’d be an excellent candidate for an upcoming promotion. Those things could help, but a 2016 HBR study that quantified the returns of delegation found that earnings capabilities go up when people delegate.
The research examined the payoffs from delegation occuring at law offices with partners and associates. It showed that, on average, a partner could earn 20 percent more by delegating, and top lawyers increased their earnings by as much as 50 percent through delegation.
Delegating enabled lawyers to spend more time with clients and handle complex tasks instead of routine ones. Then, the clients were willing to pay higher rates for the services.
You could apply this tip to whatever you do by thinking about which tasks you handle are most valuable to the company and the people you serve. Then, ponder which responsibilities prevent you from doing those things. By taking this approach, you should be able to see which duties are best left up to you, and how you could free up your time and excel by delegating.
Bill Gates is a well-known person who knows how to delegate. He did so by tasking his staff with going through his emails and determining which ones were most important. Gates recognized that reading emails wasn’t a valuable way to use his time, and you could do something similar.
2. Always Give Feedback
Distributing responsibilities to others can be a way to empower your employees. Delegation is an art, and you can do it better by offering both positive and negative feedback. Delegation itself can be a morale booster because it shows people that you trust them. Plus, positive feedback lets individuals know they’re doing well.
Negative feedback is just as essential, as long as it’s constructive criticism. Instead of merely telling a person what they’re doing wrong, be specific about how they could do better. Then, the worker can take action with your feedback, growing as a person and helping the company via improved performance.
Also, don’t wait to provide feedback until the person does something outstanding or makes a huge error. Continually providing feedback removes doubt that people will likely feel if they fear not living up to your expectations.
3. Take Time for Person-Task Matching
Delegation doesn’t mean assigning any task you’d rather not do to the closest person within earshot. You’ll be able to recognize the importance of delegation by carefully choosing tasks to delegate that align with the skills or goals of those who ultimately perform them. It’s also crucial to be aware of things like a person’s workload, how they handle pressure and if they work well on teams.
When people do handle responsibilities that fit them well, they’ll feel motivated and well-equipped. On the other hand, being asked to do an ill-suited task could make the person feel like you’re dumping things on them. Be aware of how certain tasks may cause a person to realize their potential and step outside of their comfort zone, too.
4. Provide Employees With the Resources They Need to Succeed
Handing a duty over to someone else requires you to give them all the authority and other resources necessary for doing the job to the best of their ability. As such, you may need to let relevant workers in other departments know that someone other than you is handling a particular responsibility.
Delegating correctly by providing resources as well as responsibility could make your company more productive overall. That’s because people spend less time waiting for you to make decisions and devote larger portions of their workdays to tackling the tasks you’ve given.
5. Give Guidelines and Ask for Input
Demonstrating effective delegation skills means setting a framework. People who delegate should be clear about what they want and need, as well as any associated timeframes. Also, if there are things a person taking care of a task absolutely must or must not do, those things should be spelled out at the start.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask the person receiving the task if they have ideas to improve what you outlined to them about the responsibility. The information they chime in with could make you realize that process improvements exist that could make the job less expensive or time-consuming. Seeking feedback also reminds the person that you care about what they think.
Delegation Can Provide Mutual Benefits
Psychological barriers often cause people to resist delegation and not recognize its importance. For example, you may assume you can do a task faster and better than anyone else without being open to letting someone else do it. But the information above highlights why delegation could help you and your employees alike — and in turn the whole company.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.