Delegating responsibilities and tasks allows leaders to step back, see the bigger picture and clearly identify prioritized outcomes. However, leaders need to perfect this skill to see the best results in both their teams and their organization as a whole. Here are seven strategies leaders can use to delegate more effectively.
1. Have a clear vision
Establishing a clear vision is required for successful leadership.
Most of the time, it isn’t so much about just what needs to be done but why it needs to be done. An effective leader creates a clear vision that makes team members realize the importance of why they should do the work that’s been delegated to them. Having a clear vision also allows you to see how others can contribute.
2. Communicate effectively
Having a vision is one thing. Communicating the vision is an entirely different challenge. You can’t delegate effectively without clear and specific communication which includes these key objectives:
- Assign responsibility for each task in the project
- Deliver feedback/check-ins
- Establish performance and delivery timelines
- Provide resources available for achieving the objectives
In a practical context, poor communication skills can lead to mismatched expectations and hinders your team from meeting objectives.
3. Use empathy
Empathy is the ability to relate to or connect with another’s perspective and experiences. Empathy is an important component of effective delegation as it gives insight into what motivates a person to do the work delegated to them. Empathy can also help leaders understand what may be preventing someone from engaging in work or completing assignments and what subsequent support are needed for the team to achieve success. Only engaged and motivated workers can perform at their peak.
4. Give influence
To succeed at delegating, you need to be able to influence team members on how they do the work.
Most often, the person who best knows how to improve a job is the person who does the job, and they’ll feel more included in a common goal if it involves solving problems that affect them and their work.
Leaders can make the most of this by letting delegation be directed by the suggestions and ideas of the team. They must take the initiative to make contact and use coaching to engage team members in generating ideas and asking questions to stimulate problem-solving. This approach makes it possible for team members to feel connected and exert influence over their work.
5. Encourage accountability
Accountability has a direct relationship with trust. Leaders hold themselves accountable as much as the rest of the team. It isn’t enough to reinforce accountability with words alone - it has to be demonstrated. After setting clear tasks and goals with the team member, working with them establishes a concrete plan for how the delegated work will be assessed throughout the assignment. This plan includes guidelines on how and when the work will be evaluated, and most importantly what support is available to the team when issues arise. The best leaders demonstrate accountability for resources, time and project outcomes. With a higher level of trust, team members commit to delegated tasks with enthusiasm and this drives peak performance.
6. Provide motivation
Keeping your team motivated to complete delegated tasks is a continual effort. Leaders tie motivation to the goals of the team member, the team and the organization. Motivation also involves clear communication about the purpose of the work. Motivation is personal and needs to be intrinsic. Some people may be motivated by recognition, others by autonomy. Some team members are motivated by incentives or status. Leaders take the time to learn about what motivates each team member.
7. Negotiate with your team
Negotiation with team members about tasks will help you become a better manager. Instead of handing out orders, your role is to engage your team in the delegation of tasks - have the team members help determine which tasks are best suited to their strengths and skills. Allowing the autonomy to negotiate tasks demonstrates a leader’s trust in the team and results in better performance outcomes. Matching a task with one’s strengths and skills also helps prevent the work from not being completed or being completed incorrectly, both of which cost time and money.
Delegating effectively is a skill that remains paramount to leadership success. Luckily, it can be learned. Effective delegation fosters collaboration, clear communication and engages the whole team. It also prevents mistakes and burnout. These seven strategies will help leaders mobilize their team to achieve work goals leading to better performance outcomes.