How To Delegate Effectively

Are you sick and tired of your staff not doing things the way you want them to?

This can be avoided by setting things up right from the start.

You see, delegation isn’t as simple of saying ‘ Hey Bob… you are now in charge of X’ and leaving them to it.

This can only end in disaster!

Effective delegation must be set up intentionally so that it happens the way you want it done.

Here are the 7 keys to delegating effectively that I learnt from one of my mentors Keith Cunningham:

1. Clearly define the task. 

The first one is to clearly define and agree the task / result you are after.  If it is not clear, then of course things won’t play out as you expect!  It is important you get super clear on the outcome you are after so you can clearly communicate it.  That way you and the person you are delegating to are on the same page here right from the start.

2. Delegate it to someone with competence

Secondly, you want to delegate it to someone with demonstrated competence. Is the person you want to do the task actually competent in the task?  Sometimes delegation isn’t effective because the person isn’t competent in doing the task you want them to do. To address this usually additional training is required before you can delegate and the job be done well.

3. Set up the guidelines / rules of delegation

The third thing is to set up very clear guidelines and rules of the delegation process.  Have clear boundaries.  What is okay?  What is not okay? What are they allowed to do or not do? What sort of things can they make decisions about before having to come to you.

4. Explain the resources available

The fourth key is to explain the resources available. If you have been doing a task for a long time, you often have certain resources you use or shortcuts that make getting the job done easier.  Make sure the person you are delegating to knows about them!  These might be systems, equipment or other resources.

5. Have a deadline or schedule

The fifth key to effective delegation is having a clear deadline or schedule to have it happen.  You see if you don’t have the date by when it’s going to happen, then it’s left open ended and who knows when it’s going to get done by? Usually not according to the timeframe you want! So if it’s a longer term project, that’s where you want a schedule or milestones.  That way you can check in along the way to make sure things are on track.  For shorter term tasks you just need a simple deadline.  That way you are all on the same page as to when things need to be done by.

6. Invite questions and feedback

The sixth key to delegation is to invite questions and feedback. That way you know whether the task has been clearly communicated or not.  Another good way of doing this is to invite the person to repeat the instructions back to you. You see, it’s your responsibility to communicate things clearly so that the person you are delegating to understands.  And the only way you are going to know this is if you get the feedback. In fact, no questions is a bit of a red flag. So always get some feedback when you are delegating.

7. Decide and define what the consequences. 

And the final one is to decide and define what the consequences are to be if the task does not happen according to schedule/agreement.  These can be good or bad.  Too often these aren’t communicated, and your staff just think eg ‘oh yeah I stuffed up, boss will cover it again’.  Now sometimes there are natural consequences of something happening or not happening.  Make sure they know the impact of these eg if these supplies aren’t on site by this time we will have delays starting which costs $500 for each hour we delay.  Or if we get this job right and the owner said he will send more work our way.

Remember effective delegation doesn’t happen by accident – you need to set it up.  And by following the 7 keys of effective delegation you will be well on your way.

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