1. They think it’s a sign of weakness and incompetence
First-time managers sometimes mistakenly assume that offloading tasks sends the signal that they’re struggling with their tasks and responsibilities. Rather than passing off work to others, smart delegation maximizes the use of the company’s human resources and will make your workload more manageable.
Getting things off your plate gives you more time to focus on your core responsibilities—whether that’s business development, strategy, or coaching. It also sends a clear signal to your direct reports that you trust their judgment and see their potential. Rather than showcasing your incompetence, delegating tasks actually demonstrates your strength as a leader.
2. They have difficulty relinquishing control
If you’re the type of worker who enjoys being involved in all aspects of your projects, from conception to execution, delegating entire projects to members of your team can lead to feelings of loss of control. While loosening the reins may seem scary at the beginning (especially if you care deeply about a project), remember that your job as a leader is to develop and empower your direct reports. Give your people the opportunity to take on new challenges and they’ll likely exceed your expectations.
3. They assume they can do it better
Some managers are unwilling to delegate because they assume their direct reports will not be able to handle the additional responsibilities. According to one study, two psychological processes are responsible for this blind spot: the self-enhancement effect and the faith in supervision effect.
The self-enhancement effect describes some managers’ tendency to evaluate work more highly the more involved they are in the process. The faith in supervision effect, meanwhile, refers to people’s tendency to assume that work done with more involvement from a supervisor is better than work done with less involvement.
4. They fear it might impact team morale
In some scenarios, managers may be unwilling to delegate tasks to their team members because they suspect the team as a whole is overworked. If you think your people are fast approaching full capacity, examine their workload and ask them point-blank if they’re willing to take on additional responsibilities. Straightforward communication (another vital leadership skill) is key in these situations.
5. They think training direct reports will take longer than doing the task themselves
Teaching someone how to do a complicated task is definitely an investment in time and effort. But when done right, you can quickly recuperate that short-term loss with long-term gains. For example, let’s say you need to teach an employee how to use specific software to complete a task, and your training session will last about three hours.
If the task you’re going to delegate to this employee takes you about two hours to do each day, once the training is over and the employee becomes adept at handling the task, you’ll be able to save two hours each day—time which can be reallocated to your core responsibilities.
Deciding which Tasks to Delegate
Now comes the tough part: deciding which tasks are better off being delegated to your team members or even a personal assistant. Start by auditing your current tasks and responsibilities and deciding which of these can be successfully delegated.
One helpful method is to audit using the “Six Ts”. Devised by Jenny Blake, a New York-based business and career strategist, see if your checklist meets the following criteria:
- Tiny - Some tasks may seem minor and only take a few minutes to accomplish, but they add up over time. Aside from slowly chipping away at your productivity, they also force you to break your concentration when you’re focusing on critical projects. Examples of such tasks include sending scheduled Zoom invites to multiple participants and sending emails to shortlisted job candidates. If your team members are too busy to handle these clerical tasks, consider outsourcing them to a dedicated remote personal assistant.
- Tedious - Very straightforward tasks shouldn’t be handled by the person in charge but should be delegated to subordinates. Examples of such tasks include creating the Google Slides for company-wide presentations or inputting data into the team’s weekly KPI tracker.
- Time-consuming - Blake recommends delegating tasks that may be important and somewhat complex, but “do not require you to do the initial 80% of research.” You can step in once the task is 80% complete and provide feedback, approval, or recommendations on the next step.
- Teachable - Relatively complicated tasks that can be standardized in a system and passed on to subordinates should be processed as soon as possible. Just make sure to perform quality checks and provide the final approval to ensure a smooth process.
- Terrible at - Tasks that you aren’t particularly adept at and would take you too long to accomplish should be delegated to more skilled members of your team. Can’t design or code to save your life? Send it over to the experts and focus on your main priorities.
- Time-sensitive - Some tasks are time-sensitive and end up competing with other concurrent projects. “There isn’t enough time to do them all at once, so you delegate an important and time-sensitive task so that it can be done in parallel to your other project-based deadlines,” Blake recommends.
Other Reasons to Delegate
- Has another person been given the information to complete the task?
- Does the task provide your direct report with the opportunity to diversify their skill set or develop their careers even further?
- Will the task recur in a similar fashion in the future?
If you answered yes to any of these reasons, then delegate away!
How to Delegate Tasks Effectively in 6 Easy Steps
1. Choose the right person for the job.
A key step to effective delegation is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team. Once you’ve identified the tasks you’d like to delegate, you’ll need to choose the right person for the job.
Common sense should prevail here: avoid delegating tasks that require lots of collaboration to someone who prefers to work alone. Likewise, you should avoid delegating tasks that require lots of calculations to employees who struggle with numbers.
You may also want to consider sitting down with your team and allowing them to select the tasks they’d like to work on. Letting people choose their responsibilities is another great way to build engagement and trust within the team.
2. Explain why they were chosen for the job.
Once you’ve selected the right person for the job, have a one-on-one meeting and explain to them very clearly why they were chosen for the job. Getting their buy-in ensures they’ll be committed to the task and will try their best to perform exemplary work.
Help your employee see the task as a means to diversify their skill set or take on greater responsibilities. Demonstrating that you’re committed to their growth and value their competence further reinforces professional relationships and trust.
3. Give clear instructions & set proper expectations.
To ensure that the task is executed correctly and in a timely manner, always provide clear instructions and provide a proper timeline. If the task is rather complicated, consider documenting the steps.
Alternatively, you can supply your employee with basic and important information and avoid micromanaging. Clearly communicate the milestones and goals they’ll need to hit and allow them to achieve these objectives in their own way. As long as they’re able to deliver the expected results, avoid interfering with their processes.
4. Provide adequate resources & support.
Before delegating the task, ensure that your employee has the right tools and support to get the job done. If they lack the skills to complete the job to the expected standard, provide a way for them to acquire or refine those skills.
If your subordinate has any follow up questions, be prepared to accommodate them or direct them to the resource or person who can best answer their questions. Providing adequate resources and support will ensure the smooth execution of the task.
Just as importantly, empower your employee by giving them the authority to make decisions on their own. This way, they can solve their own problems and collaborate with those who can help them without having to consult you with each decision.
5. Provide constructive feedback & regular check-ins.
While you should always avoid micromanaging your employees, they will benefit from regular check-ins and constructive feedback. Periodic check-ins will help you assess their progress, while constructive feedback will give your employee actionable information which they can use to improve their work.
6. Show gratitude & give credit.
Once your employee has completed the task, show genuine gratitude, and point out the specific things that they did well. Don’t forget to give your employee proper credit whenever it is due.
Delegate Recurring & Non-core Tasks to Your Sigrid.AI Remote Executive Assistant
Clerical and non-core tasks that don’t contribute significantly to your employee’s career development or skill enhancement should be delegated to a dedicated remote executive assistant.
Whether it’s managing calendars and schedules, booking service providers, managing documents and inboxes, or captioning videos, your Sigrid.AI virtual assistant can take these tasks off your to-do list so your team can focus on meeting major objectives and driving results.
Small teams that require the services of a dedicated virtual assistant should consider Sigrid.AI’s Enterprise Plan. This plan is ideal for teams of up to five members that require full-time support from a dedicated EA and various specialists in fields as diverse as accounting, remote event management, IT, and social media management. Your EA and attendant specialists can also provide support for major and minor ongoing projects.
Are you interested in learning more about how to hire a Virtual Assistant? Read our guide 'How to Hire a Virtual Assistant: A Complete Guide'.
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