Clemson TurreganoYou can’t do it all.

You know this, but still you try. Even as more work and more responsibility get piled on, you shoulder it.

You might feel that it saves time to just take care of a task yourself. Maybe you are protecting yourself, unsure that anyone else can do what you do. Or you could be hanging on to assignments and hovering over tasks because you just don’t have a solid process for delegating.

Whatever is behind your delegation avoidance, CCL’s Clemson Turregano has a process that can help.

In a new CCL guidebook, Delegating Effectively: A Leader’s Guide to Getting Things Done, Turregano reminds us that delegating is not just telling someone what to do or assigning tasks. It involves giving someone the authority to do something that is normally part of your job — along with the resources, direction and support needed to achieve the expected results.

Effective delegation is not a linear process — it is a cycle that involves four key steps:

  1. Understand your preferences for delegation. Leaders who delegate effectively have prioritized their workload and know why they are handing off some tasks and holding on to others. They also know themselves and what they want. For example, do you want constant updates or just a report now and then? Will you let the person or team assigned the task determine the process, or must you have it done your way? When you are clear about your preferences, you can better communicate those needs and expectations to other people.
  2. Understand your people. Effective delegating involves assigning people tasks, responsibilities and duties that match their knowledge, skills, abilities and interests. It involves giving assignments that will help them develop and advance. By truly understanding the people you manage, you can effectively identify the individuals to whom you should or should not delegate specific tasks.
  3. Understand the task, and more specifically, the purpose of the task. The task is what must be accomplished. The purpose is the reason that the task is being done — it gives meaning to the task. When a leader effectively matches the purpose of a task with a team’s or individual’s beliefs and goals, it becomes an opportunity for development. It also increases their commitment and willingness to go beyond the original assignment if necessary to accomplish the purpose.
  4. Work with the individual or team to share the process for assessing and rewarding the accomplishment of the task. What does accomplishment look like? How will you be assessing the task itself and how it is accomplished? Will you require people or teams to report to you after every step of the project, or will you just ask for a weekly rundown? Will you develop a series of benchmarks you want them to meet with regard to the project? And, when it’s over (or at key points) find a way to reward the people and teams who accomplish what you asked them to do.

Delegating takes practice and patience. When you are struggling, remember that delegation is key to developing team members and direct reports to readily accept and excel at a range of challenges — and a hallmark of effective leadership.

Why Delegate?

Delegating tasks, roles and decisions frees you up for other things. That’s a huge benefit. But when you delegate effectively, you are opening the door to many other benefits, too.

Effective delegation:

  • Enables direct reports to develop as leaders.
  • Contributes to teamwork.
  • Demonstrates trust and creates trust within the work team.
  • Provides employees autonomy, increasing the innovation, communication and creativity of the team.
  • Can result in better decisions when people who are closer to the problem can solve it.
  • Encourages professional growth and enhances an employee’s value to the organization.

This article is adapted from a new CCL guidebook: Delegating Effectively: A Leader’s Guide to Getting Things Done. Order it in print or as an e-book to rate yourself with a “Delegating Scorecard” and take a closer look at the four steps for effective delegation.

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