The Art of Delegation — In 4 Steps

Last Updated: Feb 25, 2021 | Executive Coaching, Leadership

By Lyne Desormeaux, PSYD, MCC. Why is delegation so tricky? Delegation is one competency that keeps challenging managers. Many find it hard to give up control, fearing the work would not be done correctly or on time. Or perhaps a previous experience with delegation didn’t go well, or you believe it’s just easier to do the task yourself.

But delegating is a skill that can learned. And it can free your time for other, more important projects while creating professional development opportunities for others. Let’s start with a definition from Lominger and Eichinger’s book FYI: For Your Improvement, 4th edition:

“Clearly and comfortably delegates both routine and important tasks and decisions;
broadly shares both responsibility and accountability; tends to trust people to perform;
lets direct reports finish their work.”

You can do this. Here are a few tips: 

  1. Step back, evaluate and assess what you could delegate: Make a list of projects, meetings, presentations, and tasks that you think could be trusted to your direct reports. Second, assign a name for each item. Third, set a date for the transition. 
  2. Take action and make a plan: Hold a meeting with each direct report to share what you would like to delegate and explain in detail what this will require (description of deliverables, time requirement, ownership, date of completion). 
  3. Retain ownership and provide training: You are still responsible for oversight and overall delivery, and if training and education are needed, you will need to schedule time with direct reports. 
  4. Follow up: Schedule weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly check-ins with direct reports to ensure that everything is on track. Review your list quarterly and update new delegation items (repeat steps 1 to 4). Give feedback if needed and praise and credit when work is well done.
  5. See the benefits: Once you’ve delegated, you get a chance to focus on your priorities and possibly contribute to higher-level projects and strategic objectives. 

Be vigilant: Learn to delegate and, at the same time, watch closely for any challenged employees, especially during volatile and uncertain times. Since COIVD19, you can’t expect everything to continue as before. The current climate is impacting everyone differently, and one or two of your employees might need more oversight, guidance, or even help and support. So delegate, but keep tabs on possible cracks in the system or employees who may be challenged because of changes in their personal, organizational, or global context. 

For more about delegating and developing your leadership skills, schedule a consultation with Lyne.

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