There is no such a thing as a single-handed success – even the top-performing business leaders need assistance. Successful delegation is a critical skill for growing a business. Delegating tasks leaves you time to focus on strategic work. 

What is Delegation? 

Delegation at work is the process of distributing and entrusting tasks to another team member. 

The meaning of “to delegate” is to let go of some of your power in favor of another person who usually reports directly to you. 

  • To distribute means that you divide a huge workload into smaller chunks.
  • To entrust means to show a firm belief or convictions that someone else can take over a part of the work and do it at least as good as you do.

Delegation of authority means using the power of other people to help you deal with the two most common leader challenges: shrinking resources and increasing demands.

Delegating Tasks: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Delegation is not a simple role replacement. Many managers make that simple mistake thinking that delegating tasks is simply passing the work from senior to junior employees. But this is not true; if you think you will be replaced, you will avoid delegation. Delegation of power is an opportunity for your team to learn from you under your guidance and support so that you can grow and expand. 

If you are a self-starter (which most leaders usually are) you tend to evaluate your work more beneficially than the work of someone else. This frequent cognitive bias of business leaders is an obstacle to becoming a successful delegator. Once you become aware that the extreme confidence in the quality of your work prevents you from maximizing other people’s talent, you can delegate more effectively without the self-enhancement effect shooting you in the foot.  

Another mistake lies in the faulty thinking that by delegating you are extending deadlines. While it may be true that first-time delegation will take some of your time (for example, one hour), you are making space for something new. As the person that got the task learns and becomes better in what they do, they will shorten the execution time and gain you one hour each week. 

How to Delegate Tasks Effectively

Holding onto power cuts both ways: instead of using your leadership skills when you are indispensable, you get too involved. However, your power decreases with non-essential tasks. In contrast, your power increases as you become a powerful delegator because you increase the upper limit of what is possible with the current resources. 

Effective Delegation Principles

To delegate effectively, focus on the following five principles:

  • Outcome
  • Trust
  • Support
  • Progress
  • Recognition

A simple test of how effectively you apply these principles is by answering this question:

“If I had to take a week off from work for some unexpected reason, do I have an unshakeable conviction that my team will run the “business as usual”? 

1. Outcome

Delegate by focusing on the results, not on procedures. Specify a clear outcome and let your employees choose the method. When you clearly explain the results, your employees understand the standard of work that is expected of them.

2. Trust

Trust hides in the transparency and clarity of the recruitment process. Choose people with the right level of expertise and work ethic. When you have clear boundaries about the job roles and the team structure, you can let go of a share of responsibility and let the work take care of itself.  

3. Support

Provide support where needed but resist upward delegation or tossing back tasks at you.

Delegative leadership also called laissez-faire leadership is a leadership style that gives open hands to employees to make decisions and allows for making mistakes. Balance the level of responsibility with the level of authority to provide the right level of support.

To delegate effectively means to redelegate: to change the vector of power from pointing at you to pointing right back at your employees.  

4. Progress 

Successful delegation rests on keeping up to date with the progress by tracking results. A tracking system with distinct roles and task expectations, which has identified the boundaries of power will have you set as a methodical delegator that is not apprehensive about the shared responsibility with your team.  

5. Recognition

For a job well done, give due recognition. Your employees should know when they have accomplished a job according to standard. Well-deserved recognition propels faster decision-making, personal growth, and innovation. 

Tasks That Are Crying to Be Delegated (+Examples)

If you are unsure what type of work is ripe for delegation, check if the task meets the following criteria:

    • Small. Tasks that don’t take much of your time one by one but accumulate over time. One example is virtual assistance for various administrative tasks. 
    • Repetitive. Boring tasks that don’t yield significant learning outcomes but must be done to ensure structure and a firm base. One example is KPI tracking and measurement. 
    • Time-consuming. Tasks that require a lot of your time effort should be delegated. For example, writing can take many hours if you don’t have a proven template on how to do it in short timeframes. Delegate writing by using outlines, videos, and checklists. 
    • Trainable. Every task that can be taught easily is a candidate for delegation. For example, simple project management workflows are excellent candidates for delegation.
    • Expert.  When you don’t have the skills for a particular job, the best way is to delegate it to an expert. You cannot become a licensed accountant or a designer in a day. Allow for an experienced person to take over responsibility.

Delegation is an essential leadership skill to specify limits to the work you do and can do and to find the balance between controlling and inspiring people. 

Delegating Tasks with Virtual Teams-as-a-Service

Has your leader’s workload become unbearable? We can help you to: 

  1. Identify the tasks that are appropriate for delegating,
  2. Define roles, find people, and assign clear task workflows.
  3. Set up tracking systems for delegation management.
  4. Provide communication tools to prevent upward delegation and redelegation.
  5. Establish a delegation-based leadership system.

Delegating tasks doesn’t have to be an everyday struggle when you become an effective delegator. 

Grab the Delegation Master Pack and learn how to delegate ⇓

delegation master pack


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