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5 Ways To Delegate Effectively

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When managed effectively, delegation can create ongoing benefits for you, your team, your business and your clients.

By delegating certain projects to trusted team members, you are free to focus on other matters, such as spending time with clients, prospecting, and maintaining connections with other members of your team or organization. Smart delegating also helps you showcase your ability and skills in the best manner.

For your team, taking on delegated tasks -- and more responsibilities -- provides important opportunities from which they can grow professionally and emotionally as their confidence rises.

Clients win because they can now turn to others within your firm who take on more of a leadership role. This gives them confidence not only in your business' organizational efficiency but raises the likelihood of them assigning more work to your firm.

Here are five things to consider when delegating work to an individual or team.

Be willing to let go

Delegating involves trusting others to not only take work off your desk but to complete the work to the same standard you maintain in everything you do in the business. Your emotional intelligence tells you that you cannot do everything, regardless of how committed or gifted you may be.

Delegating is not about off loading difficult or tedious tasks to others in more junior positions. Nor is it about admitting you are not up to the work challenge and have reached your limit. It's a proactive way to get things done while drawing on the talent around you.

Be clear about the task and your expectations

Avoid briefings that begin with "Please just make this go away. I can't deal with it any more."

Also avoid handing the work off to someone who happens to be passing by or whose name pops up in your in box.

(In high-stress environments where project deadlines hang in the balance, contingency plans emerge on the fly. This is the worst way to delegate and leads to uneven results and team burnout, to say the least.)

Take the time to match the right person with the right task. Get their honest opinion as to whether they have the skill or experience to take this on in the time frame required. Reassigning work in midstream because the project is floundering can be demoralizing and chaotic for you and other team members.

Throwing someone "into the deep end" is commonplace and seen by many misguided managers as a rite of passage they endured. They don't feel compelled to look out for someone else who was once in their shoes and are content to leave them to fend for himself or herself.

For the best results, ensure you train your team to the best of your ability -- and that includes introducing them to the client on larger projects if they are new to them. Time invested before the project begins to reduce surprises and get everyone prepared will save time throughout the project.

The highest-skilled category should contain tasks that you keep on your own plate, while those in the lower-skilled categories can be assigned to others that you will be available if they need your input as they go. Share the "what, when, why, who" involved in the project and suggest "how" when possible.

Don't expect "express delivery"

The person (or team) to whom you are delegating may need time to orient himself or herself to the new challenge, however routine for you. Chances are, work may take longer than you expect and you may have to jump back in to keep things on track. Be patient and realize that the delegatee wants to reward your trust in them by delivering the best result possible. Work will gradually take less time as they get more comfortable working with new people and/or processes. If you feel the need to micromanage beyond a certain point, resist it and let the delegatee do their work.

The degree of effort should tell you which tasks are more important to delegate - for example, giving someone else responsibility for a high-effort, low-skill task will save you lots of time.

Don't disappear

When you remain interested in their progress, delegatees feel that you still value their contribution while giving them the confidence to make decisions knowing they are supported. Staying in touch lets you monitor their progress and make sure the project is going well. Delegating is like make a referral. You must be sure that the person you refer will perform as advertised as your reputation is on the line. When you delegate to a person you don't know well, gradually increase the complexity of tasks so you can fix things quickly if required. Sticking around lets you get a better sense of their skills and potential.

Offer thanks - and ask for feedback

Recognizing their efforts with a "thank you" will make your delegatees feel valued and more inclined to welcome additional assignments from you in the future. They will also appreciate the chance to offer feedback on the quality of your briefing, the nature of their work and the outcome in their eyes and from the clients' perspective.

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