For some, the word delegation is not a word which often falls in to their work life vocabulary. Tainted with the philosophy of “if you want something doing properly, do it yourself” or the apprehension at the thought of passing work on to someone else, who already has their own workload to be getting on with, it’s quite easy to see why delegation is sometimes avoided. But, by failing to even consider delegating tasks, you are potentially limiting not only your own success, but also the success of others.
Delegation is an important skill to master in the world of business and leadership management, and there will be instances where it is critical. If you don’t already look for ways to delegate, it may be a good time to start in order to utilise your time and resources in the best possible way.
Many professionals throughout all areas of industry struggle with delegation, and it does not come easily or naturally for numerous reasons. Here are a number of key points to consider when approaching the art of delegation, in order to ensure you work smart and give yourself and others around you the opportunities to truly flourish in your careers:
Know what work to delegate: There are generally no rules on what type of work one should delegate – but you should always assign tasks you know the recipient will make good headway with. Delegating is not about getting rid of the monotonous tasks you dread, nor is it about giving away key projects and tasks which you consider to be overly time consuming. In order to delegate effectively, the work you delegate must be carefully considered and part of a bigger strategy. It’s about finding the right balance between delegating a task, which means your time can be better spent elsewhere, and also providing an opportunity for the person you are delegating to.
It may be something you do on a regular basis, maybe half an hour a day or each week, which you could delegate to another colleague – imparting your knowledge and expertise, and allowing someone else the opportunity to gain more responsibility or enhance their skillset, and freeing up time for you to turn your attention to another task or area. An important thing to remember is, whoever you decide to delegate to, has their own workload, so it is important to ensure that they do have the time to complete the task. Check their calendar or diary, or help them rearrange their to-do list and offer time management advice. They also need to be assured the work is not being dumped on their desk instead of yours, and they will have the support they need to fulfil the task at hand.
Be sure to consider the time it will take for you to train or show them how to do the task, and also be on hand to help throughout the progression of the task if needed, without reclaiming the task. It may seem time consuming at first, but there’s very little doubt as you begin to delegate more tasks, the transition and flow will be smoother. In the long term, this will be an invaluable investment in your own progression and ability to work more effectively.
Build a good network: As PA it may sometimes seem that you’re isolated and separated from other colleagues and work teams. Take notice if this rings true – integrate with other departments on a social level, from the marketing team to the finance team, building alliances will help you in the long term. Strike up a conversation at the coffee machine, or find an excuse to go to a particular department and have general chat. By harnessing good workplace relationships with other colleagues, you create a great network for yourself, and will most likely make your workplace environment a more fun, sociable and enjoyable place to be. How does this relate to delegation? People are more inclined to help people they like and get along with, or have at least engaged with.
By speaking to others in different departments, you’ll be able to sift out skills, attributes and aspirations of certain individuals, which will enable you to identify who may be the person for the task you wish to delegate. It may be that Sue in finance actually wants to enhance her skillset and combine her knowledge in finance with the ability to directly negotiate with suppliers. This could be a part of your role which you are able to delegate and, in turn, focus the time which you’d normally spend corresponding on other projects.
Exude confidence: In order to delegate effectively you must have the confidence and assertiveness to do so. That’s not to say delegation is about power and exerting authority, itis merely about the transference of responsibility to carry out specific activities or tasks. In order to do this, you must be confident in the way you delegate; the way you approach the colleague you wish to delegate to, the way you communicate the work you are delegating and clearly outline what is required for the task to be completed successfully – how this can be done and what the desired outcome is, and deadline schedule.
By delegating confidently, you instil assurance and trust in the person who now has the responsibility of completing the work you have passed on to them. You can begin to see delegation as a two-way entity, in which you confidently possess the ability to seek out the correct person for the task, pass on your skills, knowledge and trust by communicating exactly what is required, and in return the recipient has the honour of knowing they have been selected and trusted with the task, and will want to make sure it is completed to the best of their ability, so they do not let you or themselves down.
Let go: It can be very difficult to learn how to effectively delegate and let go of a task which you feel belongs to you. We can all be and feel precious about our work, and think that we are the best person to get the job done, but, this is not always the case. Your way isn’t necessarily the only way, and you never know what skills and perspective someone else could bring to part of a project or a task. In order to be in the best place to let go, effective delegation is key – you need to trust you have sourced the correct person for the task, trust you have communicated the objective clearly and trust that the job can be done by someone other than you.
And finally you need to trust you have done the best thing for you in your career. That’s a lot of trust you need to have in yourself, your own capabilities and intuition. But, with this trust and the ability to let go, you will have more confidence and, more importantly, time to tackle new tasks which play a greater role in your career development. You may even find yourself less stressed and overloaded with tasks that others can undertake to develop themselves, and be able to allocate time to new tasks in new areas, and ultimately advance your career.
It goes without saying, delegation is not about foisting menial tasks on others, it’s about strategizing and identifying ways in which you can become more productive and effective in your role. By entrusting others with tasks to enable you to focus on more pressing responsibilities, you’ll not only be able to alleviate unnecessary stress and pressure for yourself, you’ll also show others respect for their capabilities and present them with the opportunity to progress and learn in their role, as well as giving yourself the opportunity to evolve and diversify in yours.