Delegate at Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving, so I thought I’d do a newsletter about delegation. After all, delegation can be like giving a present, with benefits for both the giver and the receiver.

For the person delegating, the benefits include freeing up time. Also, all good managers know they have a responsibility to develop their staff, delegation can help with this and can be a rewarding part of a manager’s work. For the one being delegated to, the benefits include new skills and experience, the sense of being trusted and empowered, and increased motivation. So, benefits all round.

In the workshops and coaching I do, I’m often surprised by people’s reluctance to delegate. Excuses for not delegating usually fall into these three categories:

It’s quicker to do it myself. Yes, if it’s a one-off task it might be, but so often recurring tasks are not delegated – on the first occasion you save time, but on subsequent occasions it starts to cost time.

My staff are not capable. No, they’re not and never will be if you take that attitude. Train them.

They will be better than me. Yes, and that’s how it should be – Richard Branson has said his success is partly due to hiring people who know more than he does. Your staff should be experts at all sorts of things – but you’ll still be the manager.

So, what does good delegation look like? Here are nine steps to help you achieve successful delegation.

1. Make sure you understand the task to be delegated – its measures of success, budget, time-scale etc. If you don’t understand it, it’s unlikely that the person you pass it to will.

2. Think about who you are delegating to – have they got the time, skills etc., and what support or training do they need.

3. Give them the bigger picture. It’s hard to complete a job in isolation, not knowing where it’s come from and what’s dependent on the outcome.

4. Set aside time to delegate. Make sure you thoroughly explain what is to be done – what, when, where, how much etc. Importantly, make sure everyone is clear about what authority and decision making powers you are delegating. Is it necessary to provide a written brief?

5. Check understanding. Ask them and ask if they have any questions.

6. Agree timetable and report backs. How will you know that they are proceeding ok?

7. Be available. You can’t walk away – even though you’ve delegated the task you still have a responsibility to make sure it’s completed.

8. Be available to give advice or support.What happens at the end? Who needs to know when the task is complete?

9. Review and feedback. Spend time reviewing how things went, what has been learnt, and what might it be different next time. Congratulate.

By the way, you can delegate at all times of the year, not just Christmas.

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