Top 4 Strategies for Successful Delegation

Published: Feb 22, 2013

By Anita Bruzzese, freelance writer on topics related to workplace/career issues


If you’re one of those people who has tried delegating and seen it fail miserably, it’s time to try again.

That’s because your failure to delegate is hurting your career and sending the wrong message to the boss. Being unable to divide your workload so that you stay efficient, productive and creative tells the boss that you’re not ready for more challenging assignments, and may convince him you’re unable to manage your time effectively.

You may believe that there is no one to help you, but that’s often just stress and ego talking. Often when you’re overrun by work you’re so busy you’ve failed to take a look around and discover that others are ready to pitch in, or someone else is doing the same work. Or, you may not want to let loose of a job you’ve done for a long time, believing that you do it the best and quality will fly out the window if you let it go.

Now is the time to make changes. As the economy improves and companies begin positioning themselves for new opportunities, you want to make sure that you’re ready for new ventures, not bogged down under old tasks.

Here are 4 strategies to delegate successfully:

  • Select the right person. Don’t dump work on someone just because you don’t like them. Choose the person who has the right skills to get the work done. Selecting the wrong person can result in failure to complete the task, and that can hurt your reputation and your relationship with the colleague. Give the person a job that will interest them, and explain how the project/activity can enhance their skills and make them more valuable to the organization.
  • Offer support. Just like no two snowflakes are alike, neither are two people. That means a colleague taking on a new job isn’t going to do it exactly like you, and that can be a good thing. Be appreciative of the fresh perspective, and remain open to suggestions and questions – but do not micro-manage. Even if mistakes are made, don’t yank back the work, but rather provide support to see the person through this learning phase. If you’re seen as someone who is a supportive and fair delegator, others may be willing to help you with other tasks.
  • Set goals. When you delegate a task, provide a clear deadline and follow up in writing. You may want to check in periodically to see that things are on track if it’s the first time you’ve delegated a task to the person. Always inform the person about why it’s important the deadline be made, such as it’s a critical piece in a big merger.
  • Communicate openly. If you’re delegating a task, let others know. “I’ve turned that job over to Marcia, so please direct your question to her,” you say in an email. It makes no sense to delegate the task, then spend all your time redirecting colleagues.

Remember that delegating effectively is a skill and one that bosses appreciate. If done correctly, it can enhance your career and that of the other person(s) to which you have delegated.

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