12 Tips for Delegating Effectively
'But I gave you instructions!'
Have you ever delegated a task only to have it returned to you looking very different from what you had in mind? I have - too many times.
What I have learned, regretfully, is that the reason many of the jobs I have delegated are done incorrectly is that I have given the instructions incorrectly. Sometimes members of staff are timid about admitting when something is unclear, or they think they can work out a way to do it on their own. The following are guidelines I've developed from my own experience as well as from others who have learned how to delegate the hard way.
- Don't fall into the 'I can do it quicker and better' syndrome.
If you do, you are not managing. You will be stuck in a rut and keep your staff in a rut, too.
Clarify the task in your own mind.
Visualise what the finished task or product should look like. Supervisors are often disappointed with the work their staff return to them because they themselves weren't clear about what they wanted in the first place.
Write an outline or sketch of what you want.
You may feel silly, but you'll find it helps clarify what you want and it will help you convey what you want more clearly.
Enlist the help of the person youre delegating to.
Tell her you're trying to improve the way you give instructions and would like her to help you.
Get her to write the instructions out that you give verbally.
Ask her to repeat what she has understood by your instructions so that you can make sure you're being clear. Don't just ask her to repeat what you've said - you'll sound patronising
Don't be a perfectionist.
If you get back work that is not what you had in mind, discuss it, so that you can sort out the misunderstanding. If the work is acceptable, say, 'This is fine for this time, but next time Id like it done this way'. Getting someone to continually redo acceptable work to make it perfect is demoralising, frustrating and a waste of time.
Write out instructions
if the person you are delegating to is not available for discussion, speaks imperfect English, or forgets easily.
Put the date and time the work is due on your requests.
If it is not possible to complete the task within the deadline, the delegatee must get back to you and renegotiate the time or get you to give the task to someone else.
Log tasks on a job tracking sheet.
List what work was given out and when it is due in. Keep copies of instructions/due dates so tyyhat things do not go astray.
Agree to check work in progress. If the person you have delegated to was given a week to complete a task, check with her in three days. Ask, 'How are you doing on X?' Rather than 'Have you finished yet?' The latter puts her on the defensive and increases pressure. You can catch potential problems in the task by checking up early.
Acknowledge good jobs, no matter how small.
Work on improving bad ones. Ask, 'How can we make sure this is done on time next time?' Form a team with your delegatee.
Allow staff to use their own methods.
You should be concerned about the results, not the method. If you do this, your staff will be more productive and creative and have more self-respect.