Learning how to delegate tasks effectively is a crucial skill for any manager that wants to take their business, or department, further. But it can be hard to know exactly when to take care of something yourself, and when to ask someone else to do it, so that’s what this article is about.
We’ll talk about how to assess the work you have to do, when to determine that a task can be delegated, and who to assign it to.
First, let’s talk about why you should focus on delegating tasks.
The importance of delegating
Delegating tasks is one of the most important things you can do, because it frees up your schedule and helps you get work done faster. Moreover, this doesn’t just free up your schedule, it also frees up your mental agenda.
Let’s say you run a software development company. If you have an important client that you did an app for, and you’re still in charge of maintenance for them… it’s going to drain you, and you won’t be a good manager. I understand the need to prioritize an important client, and give them the best treatment possible, but this is not the way.
When you have to take care of a benign task every week, or every month, you can’t focus on the important things going on in your company. You can’t catch conflicts in their tracks, you can’t identify growth opportunities, and you’re not available to your team. That’s why you need to delegate tasks.
It lets you focus on what’s important for your business.
Moreover, delegating tasks enables your employees. If you train them and help them take on that important client you used to deal with, they can feel empowered, learn how to do their job better, and become a more valuable asset for your company.
So learning how to delegate tasks effectively is important, but how do you do it?
Identifying tasks to delegate
The first step in delegating tasks is understanding what tasks you can let go of. Once you have a clear picture of that, you can go ahead and involve other team members in your work.
A simple way to identify these tasks is to go by how you feel. If a recurring task is taking a lot of energy out of you, it’s just as good of a reason to delegate it as any other. Examples of these could include maintenance tasks for important clients, checking on an ads campaign, doing all projections at the beginning of the year, or sending reports out to clients.
If you want a more scientific approach, you can set-up a spreadsheet and calculate the time you spend on specific tasks throughout the week. Just write down, at the end of each day, how much time you spent on each task. These markings should be specific too, since just writing “4 hours spent in calls” won’t be insightful. At the end of the month, you won’t know what calls can be delegated, and what calls are still important enough for you to participate in them.
If you do it right, at the end of a month you’ll have a list of the tasks you spent time on. Take each entry and think about it. Ask yourself:
- Is my involvement in this task necessary?
- Who on my team can do it for me?
- How much training would they need to take on the task themselves?
That last question is important. Once you delegate a task, it doesn’t mean you let go of it completely and throw one of your employees in there empty handed. You can still delegate a task, and have a minimal involvement in it. For example, you can ask someone else to create reports for your clients, but you take a look at them and modify anything before you send them out.
Some delegation will be time sensitive. But the principles outlined above always apply, and you can ask those three questions about any task, even if you didn’t study your schedule for a month.
But it’s important to delegate tasks even when you didn’t do the math. Sometimes new, time-sensitive tasks will pop up, and if you don’t have the time to take them on, someone else will have to. That’s why you need to employ people that you trust, and get a good grasp on what they can do, and how they can come in handy during a very busy day.
Choose the right person
Once you know which tasks you want to delegate, it’s time to choose the right person for the job. If you will delegate a task to someone from your team, you can treat this like a hiring process. Think about the skills and experience of all of your employees, and choose someone who fits the task.
However, you don’t want to overwhelm someone on your team just because you trust their skills. It can quickly make them frustrated about their position, so you should always factor in someone’s schedule before setting them up with a new task. That’s why it helps to use a task management software, or at least a spreadsheet where everyone can outline their availability.
Lastly, consider your company’s structure before delegating tasks. You may trust your design lead with how they handle clients, but that doesn’t mean you should just pass a new client along to them. If you have a junior account manager on hand, it’s better to spend some more time training them to manage an important client.
Lastly, if your team is unavailable, or just not ready for one of your tasks, you can always outsource a task. Just make sure the freelancer or agency you’re contracting has experience with similar projects.
Outline the task clearly
After you know what tasks you want to delegate, and who you want to hand them out to, your job’s still not done. You also want to make sure the new person responsible for a task can carry it out without a problem.
For a successful task delegation, create a procedure for the task you’re giving to someone else. Detail steps to do it effectively, templates for deliverables, examples of previous iterations of the task, client requirements, and any other extra tips and tricks.
If you trust who you’re handing this task out to, that can be enough. However, if you want to take extra precautions, you can guide the person you delegate a task to through the process. Shadow them for a while, or be available for a meeting to further explain details about the job.
Learning how to delegate a task effectively can help you free up your calendar, empower team members, and let you focus on what matters for your company. It’s not the hardest thing to do either. You just have to:
- Identify the tasks you need to delegate
- Choose the right person for the job
- Outline the task in detail
What is your experience with delegating tasks? I’d love to see your comments down below!