As an executive, you’re in charge of a lot. You may have a team of employees who all report to you, or you may be the CEO and have thousands of employees under your wing. Regardless of your role, delegating effectively is crucial to get things done. After all, nobody can be everywhere at once, even though it feels like that sometimes.
There’s only so much time in the day for one person to manage everything that needs managing. So how do executives get things done when they’re already working with limited time? We’ve put together this guide on how executives can delegate effectively for better management so that you know exactly what needs doing.
Know What Needs to be Done
Before you can delegate effectively, you must know what needs to be done. This means you must understand the project’s goals and clearly understand what your team members can do for you.
That way, if someone asks for clarification on their responsibilities or any other aspect of a project, they’ll get an answer from someone who has all the information, not just from some middle manager who hasn’t been involved since day one.
Also, consider whether any part of the process requires specialized knowledge or skills only certain team members can access. In this situation, there must be enough overlap between everyone’s responsibilities. Hence, no single person holds all the keys to completing something successfully, not even you.
You can follow the 80-20 rule here. You can set clear instructions and project goals in the first 10%. Next, let the person to whom you delegate the task do the next 80% of the work and complete the task. In the last 10%, do a thorough check on the quality.
Assign Tasks to the Right Person
The next step in delegating effectively is identifying the right people for each task. This involves knowing your team member’s strengths and weaknesses and their availability and capacity for taking on new projects.
For example, if you’re assigning a project that requires creativity or innovation, it may be best to assign it to someone who has shown these qualities in the past. On the other hand, if a task requires an extensive knowledge base that only one person possesses on your team, it may make sense to hand off this responsibility instead of trying to teach others what they don’t know.
If you don’t select a person with the right skills to handle all the work you are assigning, it will lead to failure. According to an article published on the NCBI website, choosing the right person is one of the rights of delegation.
If you don’t already have someone on your team who can do this, you can hire an executive assistant. Finding someone with the right skills in such a short time can be challenging. Hence, it is best to seek help from recruiting agencies and let them find someone for you.
Hiring an executive assistant with the help of an agency will take the burden off you. Hence, it will allow you to focus on other things, such as establishing guidelines and clear communication. Since you will be hiring an assistant, he or she will also help you with other tasks, such as scheduling and time management.
Check-In But Don’t Micromanage
You may be tempted to check in with your delegated employees as often as possible, and if you’re a hands-on manager, this is a natural inclination. But beware, frequent check-ins can undermine your ability to delegate effectively.
At the same time, you also want to check in on progress and get feedback from your delegated employees before going too long. So how do you strike the right balance? The answer lies in knowing when and how often to check in on the work of those who’ve been working under their own steam for a while now.
The best way to find that sweet spot is by setting regular check-in times with each person being delegated tasks and then sticking with them consistently over time. It’s best to keep these times the same because they fit into one’s schedule. This will make it easier for everyone involved to get used to the routine and understand what’s expected of them at each stage.
While you might feel that you need to be in the loop continuously, micromanaging can ruin the entire project. Studies show that monitoring employees can make them slow down and slack off. This can impact the project’s timeline and may lead to missed deadlines.
Give Clear Instructions
When delegating a project, be as specific as possible. This will help your employee feel confident about the task and get it done promptly. You should also use examples and ensure you’re clear about the project’s goal. The more specific you can be, the better off everyone involved will be.
For example: “I’d like this report to include our current sales numbers by region.”
Or: “I want to compare how many people used each payment method last year versus this year.”
Besides clear instructions, it is also vital to have clear and ongoing communication with the delegate. However, communication is challenging, especially if the delegate works remotely. Data shows that 33% of people feel communication has become difficult due to working from home.
Know When to Let Go of Control
The first step to delegating effectively is knowing when it’s the right move. Here are some situations that are good candidates for delegation:
- When your team members have proven their ability to complete tasks well and on time, and you want them to take on more responsibility for their work
- When the task is simple enough that someone else can do it with minimal supervision from you
- When success doesn’t hinge on how well this particular task is done
In general, if you’re unsure whether or not a particular project fits into these three criteria, and if there isn’t anything genuinely urgent about getting it done, consider asking yourself if you’d be better off letting go of control and letting someone else take the reins.
Effective delegation is one of the most critical skills a manager can have. It takes time to develop, but with these tips and strategies, you can start delegating more effectively today.