Guide to Effective Delegation

Think back to when you started your first job. Can you remember how often your boss or teammates would delegate you items to complete?

At the time, it may have seemed that others were just dumping their workload on you or it may have felt as if you were being handed an opportunity to step up.

Both outcomes are examples of delegation in your life and great teachers of how effective or ineffective managers balance their workloads. So how do we ensure successful delegation on our teams but still maintain control and accountability?

Two Wrong Ways to Delegate

As project managers, we are tasked with accomplishing a large variety of tasks in a short amount of time. Below are the two more common extremes of ineffective delegation by project managers.

Extreme #1 - 

  • We have all worked with people who try to accomplish everything themselves. Those who try to keep the full burden of that workload generally do not achieve the best results. They also do not instill any trust in their team.

Extreme #2:

  • There are also project managers who delegate every task that hits their desk. The results of the constant delegator may be positive at first but end up dropping off due to the project manager having no real feel for his or her projects. This method overloads and overworks team members to the point of burnout. You also lose any chance to build team synergy through collaboration and leading by example.

Both of the above delegation types do not create success and do not help you grow your team. Proper delegation is a great way for you as a leader to get more done and to build confidence and trust within your team.

How Do We Effectively Delegate?

The way to effectively delegate can take many shapes and forms. You as a leader must identify the strengths and capabilities of those on your team. You never want to task subordinates with something that they are not capable of and expect a positive outcome, which is an all too common practice of many tenured project managers. This not only defeats any team building gains that you may make, it also puts your projects at risk.

If you identify the potential in a team member to complete a task but know they are not trained to do so, use this as a training opportunity. This will build trust for your team in you as a leader and you will gain confidence in the team’s ability to accomplish tasks you are assigning them.

After identifying what your team members are capable of handling, it is time to take your personal task list and identify what only you can do and distribute the remainder accordingly.

Once you have your delegated tasks assigned, you need to set clear expectations and completion goals for those items with each team member. Just because we being to delegate does not mean we are not responsible for the outcome of these tasks.

It is a good practice to follow up with your team members periodically and ensure that they are following through with tasks to completion with no major roadblocks. If team members are encountering resistance, take a few minutes and identify possible solutions to get the process moving forward again without taking the task back over. Our end goal is to spread our workload and achieve more!

Conclusion

Delegation takes many forms but is up to us as team leaders to ensure delegated tasks are properly tracked and completed. Delegation is a powerful tool, if used properly, and can produce a more balanced workload and personal life for the project manager who learns how to use it correctly.

Action Steps

  1. Identify tasks that only you can do versus tasks you can delegate
  2. Identify what tasks your team members are capable of handling
  3. Train team members as necessary to ensure success
  4. Delegate tasks out with clear completion goals identified
  5. Ensure that you are following up on task status throughout completion
  6. Remember that you are responsible for the outcome of items you delegate to others

Blessings In Your Endeavors,

Hayden Tuley


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