How to Delegate Effectively

Have you ever felt frustrated with an employee who didn’t do exactly what you asked? Have you ever thought that maybe it was your delegation that was the problem, not the employee? No? Think about that for a moment. What if it’s you, not them!? Well, don’t worry I’m about to teach you how to effectively delegate and have happier, more engaged employees in the process!

THE RISKS OF NOT DELEGATING EFFECTIVELY

Some negative things can happen in your business if you do not learn to delegate effectively.

  1. The most obvious risk is that the delegated task just does not get done. At all!
  2. The task gets “done” but not “done” like you thought it should be.
  3. The most severe consequence of not delegating effectively is a lack of engagement which could lead to low staff retention. That’s right! Even your best people will quit if you cannot learn to delegate effectively.

Now that you understand and maybe are familiar with some of the risks of ineffective delegation we will dive into my advice for delegating effectively.

DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY WITH CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

You MUST give the employee VERY clear expectations. They are responsible for the task and so they need to be very clear on the expectations, not just you. The task is in your head and the instructions or request is coming from you. You obviously understand what you want to be done! One of the markers of effective delegation is that the receiving person is clear on the expectations. I always say clarity is kindness. So does Forbes in this article about setting clear expectations. How can you be sure they have understood? Have them tell you in their own words what you have asked of them. If they’ve nailed it when they parrot back to you, great job! You communicated your expectations clearly. 

If your employee is still unclear about the expectations, there may be a communication issue. You have to remember, not everyone learns in the same way you do! For example, I learn only by reading and writing. I cannot remember anything if it’s not read/written by me. Because of my learning style, I tend to use my calendar for everything (you should too, more on that later). I also send a lot of emails and text messages, which works great for me… but not so much for the people on my teams… or even other people in my life! They actually hate it. I’ve been learning and communicating this way for almost 40 years, however, I have to work on this constantly to ensure that I am communicating with my team in a way that they find useful and works for them! To delegate effectively, share, teach, and instruct in THEIR preferred learning style! They might learn best through reading, writing, watching, doing, listening, or something else. Just ask! Remember, questions are your superpower! Check out this article from Forbes about different learning styles!

how to delegate efffectively

DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY WITH CLEAR ROLES AND GOALS

Effective delegation is key when looking at and developing your teams’ job descriptions and discussing their KPIs (key performance indicators). Check out this blog post where I share more about roles and goals. Their roles and goals come from their job description and KPIs. So, these need to be very clearly taught and instructed in their learning style and parroted back to you to make sure they get it. These are ongoing conversations that involve delegation, so there is lots of opportunity for you to learn how to delegate effectively! As an extra tip, you need to follow up with tasks you’ve been responsible for delegating to ensure the end product is what you expected. If not, there’s an opportunity for you to learn where you fell short in communicating the task and delegating effectively! Use their feedback and the situation to get better at communicating and teaching in their preferred learning style! AND become more effective at delegating while you’re at it! 

A warning for those like me: we have to watch out for our “entrepreneurialness” and make sure we are focused, intentional, and only delegate (or even talk about) one thing at a time! I know this can be hard, but it is so important for communicating and delegating effectively!

DELEGATING EFFECTIVELY: AN EMPLOYEES PERSPECTIVE

If nothing before this was powerful, this is because it’s from one of my amazing team members! When asked, “what did you like about the way your leader delegated to you?”, this was their response: “I love that she makes sure I have time in my calendar to DO the task, as well as get it done on TIME.” So, we need to make sure that we’re taking a look at those amazing tools we call calendars! Make them a part of your process of delegating. Obviously, your teams’ calendars are already shared with you so you can see them… right? Good. After making sure there’s time for your employee to complete the task and maybe moving things (WITH THE PERSON) around in their calendar to make time, set a date for the task or project to be accomplished if needed. Importantly, ensure you book a follow-up and make sure you’ve shared that you would like to follow up with them and the task once it is complete!

 

how to delegate effectively

 

This wonderful employee of mine, also shared that she “appreciates how her leader makes sure she LIKES the tasks that are being delegated to her.” Now, you might be thinking, “whoa who’s in charge here?” Tell that stupid voice to shut up, because obviously, you’re in charge!! However, one of your most important jobs as a leader is to keep your people happy and take care of them!!! If you don’t take care of your team, who will take care of your customers? NO ONE. Make sure your team likes their job, or at least the large majority of it! You should be able to move tasks to the best person, and have everything you need to be done, because you used your incredibly effective job descriptions and calendars to hire and create this new job description, right? Good. If you want more tips about how to motivate your team and keep them happy, check out this blog!

HOW TO USE YOUR CALENDAR TO DELEGATE EFFECTIVELY 

You know I have to put a recommendation about using your calendar, and you knew it was coming, so don’t roll your eyes! Execution is EVERYTHING so you must be using your calendar!! And your team must as well! 

  • Make sure the delegated task is in every calendar necessary for it to get done. The person doing it, the person helping them, plus the person following up on it all need calendar events to ensure the effectiveness of the entire delegation process! 
  • Make sure the due date and follow-up date are on the calendar. If a longer time is needed these dates can sometimes move, but a due date is important to keep people motivated and focused! 
  • Most importantly, when delegating (even to yourself)  make sure you book a little more time than you think it will take in that calendar, especially if it’s something new. Remember, we want to be doing things well, not just getting them done.

So, there you have it. All of my secrets of delegating effectively! To be honest, I’m very glad I delegated a lot of my delegating responsibility to a leader that is much better at it than I am!

However, I am committed to becoming more effective at delegating. Would you like to join me in that commitment? I promise it will increase productivity, morale, engagement, effectiveness, efficiency, and overall life satisfaction for all involved! How could you not?!

Business can be better™ and it should be!

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Kelli-Rae Tamaki

Kelli-Rae is truly passionate about successful business, and believes it can always be better, which is why she has spent 20 years studying, running, coaching and consulting with businesses, just like yours.