How to delegate tasks effectively as a manager

No matter if you are a new manager of others or an experienced manager,
delegating tasks to your team members is one of the must skill to master to be successful in any managerial role.

If you struggle with the delegation of tasks,
discover here how to delegate tasks effectively as a manager.

How to delegate tasks effectively as a manager

Your role as manager is comparable to the role of a football coach (soccer for the Americans).
As a football coach,
you will not be scoring the goals, rather your players are the ones to score the goals.

The same happens off the pitch, in the work environment.
As a manager of others, scoring the goals will be the responsibility of your team members.
The way you can enable your team to score the business “goals” is by following three simple principles:

  • Distributing the workload properly among the team members.
  • Assigning the tasks to the team members playing on their strengths
  • And last but not least, monitoring everything is happening on the team as expected.  

But first, it is key to understand what it is and what it is not delegating tasks as a manager.

First, what does it mean to delegate tasks

In simple words,
delegating tasks basically means distributing all the tasks that your team is responsible for among all the team members in your organization.

The ultimate purpose of delegating tasks is to free up your own time as a manager,
so you can focus on the key tasks as they happen and ensure the team is performing as expected.

Do you know what it is not to delegate tasks?
Delegating tasks is not just telling your team members that they need to do the job no matter what, without any clear guidance.

While delegating tasks to the team,
it is key to clearly communicate who is responsible for each task, what it is expected to be performed and by when the task should be completed.

Following these simple principles,
you will be setting up your team for success by effectively delegating the tasks to your team members.

If you are not yet a manager and you want to land a managerial position, discover here actionable tips to land into your managerial dream job.

Principles of delegation

Delegation is an important skill for leaders to master to effectively manage their time and resources. When delegating tasks, it is important to consider the following principles:

  • Clearly define the task and the expected outcome.
  • Choose the right person for the job.
  • Provide necessary resources and training to deliver the task.
  • Whenever needed, be there to support your team.
  • Set clear expectations and deadlines.
  • Follow up and monitor the progress of the task
  • Provide feedback on the way.
  • Trust the person you have delegated the task to and avoid the urge to micromanage. Trust is trust, avoid micromanagement.

By following these principles, you will master one of the key skills as a manager of others.

How does effective delegation look like?

For each action that is delegated to your team members,
there needs to be clear guidance of what is needed, a clear owner and a clear deadline.

As normally it is said,
the key responsibility of a leader is not to tell the team what to do, but instead to show the team the way.
While delegating tasks,
do not focus on the goal to achieve, but instead, focus on the systems to execute in order to achieve the goal.
As an example in the supply chain,
if your objective is to deliver a service of 98% to your customers (meaning to deliver 98 products out of the 100 products the customer order).
A bad delegation example what would be telling the owner of the action to deliver service of 98%, without any further guidance.
While a good delegation example would be telling the owner of the action the systems to execute to achieve the goal.

  • Monitor the top products impacting the service by applying Pareto principles
  • Design and drive an action plan for the top contributors
  • Monitor how you are progressing week to week vs the target

Bear in mind the experience of your team members, the more experience the owner of the action, the less guidance will be needed.
And vice versa, the less experience is the owner of the action, the more guidance will be needed.

Unless exceptional cases, delegating tasks with general owners such as All, team, volunteer…
This general owner means setting up your team for failure.

When possible, try to assign the owner of the task only one person.
If the task, due to complexity, workload, or whatever other reasons, needs more than one person,
make sure you clearly address this action to the group of people (name them) responsible to deliver the task.

It is your responsibility as a manager to ensure the person owning the task has all the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources to complete the task successfully.

How can you ensure that?
Sense check with the task owner/owners if they are able to execute the task without clear guidance.

For the deadline is important to differentiate between one-time actions and ongoing actions.

Let’s start with the one-time action.
If the action is a one-time action, set up a clear deadline.
Avoid setting up general deadlines such as soon as possible, whenever you can… try to set up specific deadlines.
What does it mean specific deadline?
A specific date – for example, action needed to be completed by 16-Jan-2023

If the action is ongoing,
it is important to keep accountable the action owner to share updates on a certain frequency basis.
As example,
you may want to get a weekly update on the status versus the target, what the open topics are and which help is needed from the manager.

Benefits of delegation

Now that you know what delegation is about and how to delegate tasks to your team members, let’s focus on the benefits of delegation:
Important to highlight that delegation is not only impacting the leader but as well the team members who get the tasks assigned.
By effectively delegating tasks to the team, you as a leader can focus on the key responsibilities within the team while allowing other team members to complete tasks more efficiently.

Time management:
Effective delegation allows you as a leader to prioritize your own tasks and focus your time on the “major fires” within the team. You will be the helping hand to support your team when needed.

Believing in your team:
By delegating tasks, you are sending a very powerful message to your team. You are telling them “I believe in you” Delegating tasks can empower team members and boost morale by giving them more responsibility and the opportunity to learn and grow.

Capability growth:
Delegating tasks, especially difficult tasks, will allow your team members to expand their skills and knowledge. It will enable them to make them gain new skills and experience, which can lead to personal and professional growth.

Mistakes to avoid when delegating

In the same way, it is key to delegate tasks effectively to your team,
there are a few elements you need to avoid, especially if you are a first-time manager when delegating tasks to your team members. Let’s see them together.

Lack of clarity
Not being clear about the task and expectations is setting up the person for failure. While delegating the task it is important to define what is expected, and sense checks if any help is needed.

Assigning the task to the wrong person:
Assign tasks to the people playing on their strengths, not on their weaknesses.
Choosing the wrong person for the job means automatically setting this person up for failure.
It is key that as a manager you know well enough your people to make them grow in the areas they feel more comfortable.

Avoid micromanaging
Delegating is all about trust and believing in your people. Avoid the temptation to constantly check the status of the tasks. Micromanaging add pressure to your team. Give them the space to deliver.

Follow up
Micromanaging is not the same as a follow-up.
While micromanagement would be something to avoid, the follow-up would be something highly recommended – setting up you and your team for success. Especially with non-experience people is important that you check in on the progress of the delegated task and provide continuous feedback to ensure the task is going in the direction that you expect.

Resources and support:
Make sure the person you are delegating to has the necessary knowledge and resources to deliver. Ensure you are there to support to make sure the task is successfully completed.

Why first-time managers are reluctant to delegate

As a first-time manager,
you need to do the mental “click” of you doing the task versus others doing the tasks for you.
The higher you will go in the hierarchy,
the higher the chances your performance will depend on others doing the tasks.

That’s why,
there are several elements you need to be mindful as a first-time manager while delegating tasks to your people.

Believe in yourself:
If you are holding the position you have, it is because your manager sees you are the perfect fit. Believe in yourself and avoid doubting your leadership skills. You are more capable than you think.

Believe in your team:
As a first-time manager, you are only as good as your team is.
Get to know your team members in the one-to-one meetings so you can trust them and believe in them while delegating tasks. Discover how to manage the first one-to-one with your team members.

Fear of losing control:
You don’t need to be in control of everything as a manager of others. Define the top tasks (for example the top 3) that you need to be in full control and for the rest of the tasks count on your team to comment and keep you updated when needed.

Of course, as a first-time manager, you can’t compare with other managers that have 5-10 years of experience. It is key that you find one or a few mentors who can guide you and share their tips and tricks.
Learn how to get a mentor here.

“Done is better than perfect” Get things done.
As a first-time manager, you will want to get everything done perfectly. I must tell you this is impossible.
Focus on getting things done, and mastery will come with time.
As said, done is better than perfect.

Recommended books for delegating at work

If you need some books to inspire you, I leave you here a list of books that will help you with your delegation skills at work.

FAQ How to delegate tasks effectively as a manager

I leave you here some of the most common questions regarding how to effectively delegate tasks as a manager.

How can managers delegate tasks more effectively?

The best way for managers to delegate more effectively is by assigning the best fit for the task, sharing clear instructions of what is expected and monitoring that the task is being completed in the desired direction.

What is the biggest barrier to delegation?

The best barrier to delegation is the lack of trust in the team, you can address this lack of trust by having efficient one-to-one with your team members as soon as you take over the role.

What are the delegation steps you can use as a manager?

The delegation steps you can use as a manager are, defining the task, assigning the owner, validating the readiness of the owner, defining the deadline and monitoring the progress.

What is the biggest barrier to delegation?

The biggest barrier to delegation is the lack of trust in the team, you can address this lack of trust by having efficient one-to-one with your team members as soon as you take over the role.

What managers should not delegate?

The manager should not delegate tasks that the team is not ready for or capable to perform. Before delegating a task as a manager, you need to sense check person is capable enough to successfully deliver the task. to take and manage

What is a bad way of delegating tasks?

A bad way of delegating tasks is not sharing enough guidance, and allocating many and the wrong people for the same action without specifying a deadline.

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