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Published on: HR Coaching & Mentoring

How great leaders delegate work effectively

Delegation plays an important part in maximising productivity. As a manager or leader, it can be difficult to begin delegating to members of your team. This could be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps you are concerned about burdening your team with more work, worried that the work won’t get done to your standards, or maybe you just don’t have the time to invest upfront to teach people what you want them to do.

Learning to delegate effectively can really help you and your business to thrive. It gives you back the time you need to focus your skills on the higher priority stuff, while your team gets a chance to develop and learn new things.

But there is an art to it. Here is how great leaders use delegation effectively…

Know when to delegate
Something that we can all struggle with is knowing when to let work go. There is a tendency to hold on to work even when you are incredibly busy, just because you want to make sure it is done right. If you have tasks that you really don’t have time for, consider the following questions to determine if you could delegate it:

  • Does someone else have the required knowledge and ability to complete the task?
  • Can you set aside sufficient time to hand the work over?
  • Could your staff benefit from the development opportunity?
  • Is it appropriate to delegate this task (i.e. some levels of reporting or recruiting should probably stay with senior staff)?


​Choose the right person

Hopefully you will have good knowledge of your team and what their strengths are. Creating a skills matrix for your team can really help pinpoint those strengths in a glance. But if you are not yet familiar with your team, the key is to start slowly and delegate smaller tasks while you build up your trust and familiarity with your team members.

When you are deciding which person to pass the work to, consider their strengths, their interests, and their current workload. Giving someone work they are passionate about will motivate them and you will likely see a better result. Taking their workload into account is also important, as you don’t want to risk overloading them and causing them extra stress.

Once you have selected the best person for the job, have an open conversation with them about what the work involves so they know exactly what to expect. Make sure they feel confident taking on the work and invite them to ask any questions they might have.

Instruct thoroughly and clearly
Unless you work with a collection of psychics, it is safe to say that your team are not mind readers. Therefore, it is very important to give clear and specific instructions when you are delegating work. Give them the essentials like when the final due date is and any important background information.

It is also a good idea to set up check in or milestone dates when you want to see a certain piece of the work completed.

Remain available for support
It is important that you remain in contact with your team member after delegating them new work. Be open to receiving any questions they have as they carry out the work and check in with them regularly. You don’t want to micromanage, but it is good for them to know you are available if they need you.
Staying available does not mean you should take the work back if you are getting too many questions. Delegating is a good tool for coaching and developing your time. Meaning that it is worth doing – it might just take a bit of patience initially!

Review, debrief – and learn!
Once the project or task is completed, make some time to sit down with your team member to review how it all went. Document some high points and low points and anything either of you could learn for next time.

Is delegating something you know you need to do in your role, but you aren’t quite sure how to make it work? It is a skill to be able to delegate well, and often a skill that you have to learn. If you are not sure where to start, I can help you to hone in on your key tasks and the best ones to delegate, so that you can start using your time effectively and utilise the skills of your team to increase office productivity.

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