D is for Delegation

Rarely does Delegation take the limelight – the starring role as an important “technique” for your overall success (and the overall success of your team).  So in this article (drum-roll please), I’d like to welcome to the stage:
I’ve called Delegation a “technique”.  In my opinion, that is what it is and, as with any technique it takes practice.  Let’s think about Delegation in terms of the following:
- What are the reasons people don’t delegate? 
- What’s important about delegating? 
- The “when” of delegation
- The “who” of delegation
- The “how” of delegation
What are the reasons people don’t delegate?
So, I put my hands up.  Here I am writing an article on delegation and I own up to the fact that, in the past, I haven’t delegated because that little voice in my head is saying “I like doing things my way.  I know how to do this – so it’s easy just to do it myself rather than to take the time and effort to explain it all to someone else.  Anyway they might not do it the same way as me – and, of course, my way is the best”.   
Sound familiar?! We need to understand that delegation is important. So, what’s Important About Delegation?
1.  You can free up your time to develop skills in other areas
2.  You can develop other people’s skills and abilities
So, there’s another D word that skips hand-in-hand across the stage with Delegation.  
In essence, delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential.

The “When” of Delegation
The power of questioning comes into being here!  Ask yourself:

Is this a task that only I can do – or can someone else do it? 
Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
Is this a recurring task?   By delegating now, will I be saving time in the long term? 
Do I have enough time to delegate the task effectively?  You need to think about the time involved in any training provision, questions and answers, opportunities to check progress and rework if necessary.  Keep thinking long-term.  This might take some time and effort now however in the long-term you could be freeing up your time and ultimately aiding development.
The “Who” of Delegation
Think about the person you are delegating to.  What skills, knowledge and experience do they have in relation to the task? Are they going to need training (and do you have the time and resources available to provide this)?  What do you know about the way this person likes to work?  How independent are they?  What do they want from their job?  What is their current workload like and do they have time to take on more work?  
The “How” of Delegation
Firstly, as with any situation, you need to be really clear about your desired outcome – what is it you want or need to achieve.  
Involve the person in the whole delegation process – discuss and decide with them what tasks are to be delegated. Agree with them how this will work.  Should the person wait to be told what to do?  Ask what to do? Recommend what should be done then act? Act and then report results immediately?  Take action then report periodically?
Ensure you match responsibility with authority (remembering that ultimate accountability is with you).  Communication flow is key and you need to be available to answer questions.  Quieten that little voice in your head that says your way of completing a task is the best – someone else may complete the task differently to you.  We all have our own ways of working.  Ensure you focus on the result.  
Get the person to recommend solutions and problems (rather than simply providing the answer) and ensure you provide praise and recognition throughout.  Discuss timelines and deadlines and set aside time to review submitted work.
Get the balance right between giving enough space for people to use their abilities whilst still monitoring and supporting them to ensure the job is done effectively.   Only accept work you are satisfied with – if you accept work you are not satisfied with the team member will not learn to do a task properly.  Share the Belief that “There is no failure, only feedback” and that the best feedback is given for someone’s development.
So, there we are.  Delegation and Development have taken the limelight – our stars of the stage and I’m sure you’ll join me in giving them the standing ovation they deserve.

I very look forward to sharing more A-Z Pearls of Wisdom with you and if you’ve enjoyed reading this article please do feel free to leave your comments below (you don't need to be logged in). If you missed C is for Communication, please click here.
About the Author:  
Lindsay Taylor grew up in Hong Kong and has worked as an Executive Assistant in both the UK and the US. She now runs Your Excellency Limited, delivering training and coaching to administrative professionals around the world.  Lindsay is renowned for developing and delivering the workshop “Be a PA with PA – Perfect Awareness” which carries the endorsement of The Institute of Administrative Managernent (IAM).
Over the years, Lindsay has collated a wealth of input from the professionals she has worked with, and the information she now holds forms the basis for The A-Z Pearls of Wisdom.
Lindsay adores the experience of working in different cultures and meeting new people.  She thrives on being busy – approaching everything she does with energy, drive and a real zest for life.
To contact Lindsay, please click here.