AS YOU make your way up the corporate ladder, you will increasingly come to rely on your delegation skills to be an effective manager. Successful delegation can lead to a positive outcome for both you and the people you delegate some of your work to, and make everyone more productive.
Follow these guidelines for a smooth handover:
1. Be willing to delegate
The first step in effective delegation is the willingness to pass on your work. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they can do a better and quicker job than those who are available to help them.
On the surface this may appear to be true, but hoarding your workload will not benefit anyone in the long run. In traditional top-down situations, the work best suited to delegation will usually be that which requires the least amount of skill.
This means by hanging onto it, you are less able to focus your time where you really need to - on the more demanding parts of your role. You are also depriving the person below you of the opportunity to step up to a challenge.
If you are delegating to a peer, this may not always be the case, but you will still be potentially holding back the productivity of your team. Helping each other out during times of stress can mean the difference between a good team and a bad team.
2. Have a clear objective
Once you have decided on the work you wish to hand over, build a clear picture in your mind of what you believe is the most ideal end result. If the task is fairly complex, also consider the most efficient way to tackle it and be prepared to pass on any helpful hints. You cannot give clear instructions if you yourself are not clear on what you want.
3. Choose the best person
The next step is to choose the best person to pass the task to. The task must be within a person's capabilities and not cause them too much stress. At the same time, consider opportunities that will allow other staff members a chance to extend their skill set and learn.
Remember to also take into account people's individual workloads when making this choice. If you are asking a team-mate rather than a junior member of staff for his assistance, offer to help him with something else in the future in exchange for his support.
4. Give clear instructions
This step is the one that will really make or break the whole delegation process. The way you communicate a task will often determine how well it is carried out. Depending on the complexity of the task and the person you are delegating it to, you may wish to write the instructions down or keep a log book.
Sometimes verbal instructions will be sufficient, but by keeping a record, you leave less room for miscommunication. The key is to work with the person helping you to make sure instructions are delivered in the way that is best for him.
Be specific and make sure limits of responsibility and authority are clearly set out and agreed upon. It is often better to give people a certain amount of freedom in the way they carry out a task. This gives them an opportunity to shine and they may often surprise you by finding a more efficient way to do things. Finally, make sure you set a realistic deadline that is clearly communicated and recorded. Send a follow-up e-mail if required.
5. Provide support
Once the task is underway, do your best to remain approachable throughout, no matter how busy you become. If the person feels able to ask you questions along the way, you will be less likely to end up with unsatisfactory results.
6. Feedback and prepare
Once the job has been completed, take the opportunity to give feedback and prepare for next round of delegation. If you end up with a less than perfect result, discuss the outcome constructively. You should also seek feedback for yourself on how the process could have been more successful.
If revisions are required, it is better to get the person to whom you have delegated the work to fix any shortcomings or errors himself. This is especially true if you are in a more senior position as it is imperative that you do not have to fix other people's mistakes.
Finally, don't forget to thank people for their efforts.
It is never too early to start honing your delegation skills. Even if you are a junior member of staff, you will usually be able to find some way to develop your skills, whether it is seeking help from the receptionist or getting help from a colleague. By starting early and on a small scale, you will be sowing the seeds for delegating successfully when you attain a senior position.