Updated: Nov 17, 2018
Whether you are a high-powered executive, small business entrepreneur, a stay-at-home parent, or regular working Joe, effective delegation is a key element to more productive and efficient time management.
Delegation is one of the most important skills one can master.
Delegation is important in all aspects of life. Whether you need assistance in your personal life or professional career, the principles of delegation are key to ensuring a successful outcome. It doesn’t matter if you are delegating to a child, family member, adult volunteer, co-worker, subordinate or your boss.
These are the seven principles of successful delegation:
Delegation is a reciprocal relationship. Delegation is not about dumping work on someone and abandoning them. Delegating requires that both parties put forth. You should be prepared to provide clarification and maybe even some encouragement when needed. Also, if you have no one to delegate a task to, you may have to “negotiate” by arranging a trade, making a deal, or simply by asking for help.
Is this a task best performed by you? Be honest with yourself. Tasks should be assigned based on competency. Delegate the project to someone who is ready and capable of developing the skills necessary. In other words, don’t give a project to someone that is not at or near the skill level required to perform the tasks involved.
Let go. Remember micromanagement does not work. You must trust that the person assigned the task will perform to the best of their ability.
Define the tasks. Provide clear and concise instructions. Explain the reason for the work, steps to be taken and what you want achieved. Be open to any question. To confirm clarification allow the delegate to explain the task and expected outcome in their own words. Allow the delegate to approach the subject using their logic and analytical processes. Everyone does not approach a process in the same way but will reach the same results.
Agree on timelines and deadlines. Set concrete start and finish dates. Consider time for you to review the project.
Consider resources needed. Ensure all resources - people, location, time, materials, money, and equipment has been lined up to support the project. Communicate to the delegate and confirm the level of authority they have over the resources. Announcing to all involved the delegate’s authority is necessary to achieve support for the project.
Resist the Blame Game. Practice an open-door policy for feedback. It is important that all parties involved feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns. If something hits a snag, remember ultimately you are still responsible for the outcome and must make yourself available to provide feedback throughout the project. Maintain a position of mentor not punisher. Give credit where credit is due and acknowledge success graciously.
Whether you are a parent delegating to a child or the boss, these principles are necessary components that should never be ignored when passing a task on to someone else. Delegation should never be about power or authority; it should be an opportunity to develop you and the person you are assigning the responsibility to. It should be assigned to someone who will embrace the task as its own and enjoy the challenges and the opportunities the experience unfolds.
There may not be someone available to delegate to. It may be more cost effective to pay for someone to perform a task then for you to reserve time for a task that can clearly be performed by a person with a greater skill set for the task and/or a lesser hourly rate. In this case, delegation is a win-win strategy when the right person is assigned the task.
To determine if you should hire someone for a task I recommend the following:
Ask yourself what is my skill level for the task? If you think it may be more efficient to hire someone more proficient to perform the task, consider the cost. If you can hire someone who can complete the task more efficiently and at a lesser rate then hire them. (Even a stay-at-home parent has an hourly rate. If you consider all the things you do and what the going rate is to hire someone to replace you, then you will realize you too have a monetary value.)
If you're going to save money and going to save time, delegate the task to someone else. Use your time to perform task best handled by you!