Executive Coaching Articles

How to Delegate Effectively

According to a survey of 3,200 administrative professionals, “delegating meaningful tasks” is one of the top ten most desired qualities in a manager or boss.

Yet so few bosses know how to delegate effectively.

Why? Many fear that if something goes wrong, they’ll be responsible. A client recently admitted to me, “If I am going to get hung by a mistake, let it be mine and not someone junior.” However, when you delegate, you get more done, work less hours and produce more. Just as important: you can help others learn and develop.

Here are six simple tips to help you learn how to delegate effectively.

  1. Step back and take a hard look at your calendar and inbox. Examine all your tasks, conference calls and meetings for the upcoming week. Which of these are candidates for delegation? Some may be lower priority items. Others might present learning opportunities for someone in your work group.
  2. Why delegate when you can eliminate? You may discover that some of your tasks or meetings unnecessary. So why pawn them off on someone else when you can simply scratch them from your “to-do” list?
  3. Know the difference between “dumping” and “delegating.” Assume that most people want additional responsibilities. But, like the aforementioned study found, they want “meaningful tasks.”
  4. Don’t set someone up to fail. When you delegate a task, make sure the person is capable of performing it successfully. For example, you’d like to unload some of your budget responsibilities, but no one in your group has the skills to take on the work. Mention this opportunity when you conduct your regular appraisals. One of your subordinates might have an interest and be willing to schedule the required training.
  5. Motivate the person you are delegating to. Communication is critical. If they understand the impact their work has on the company, they will buy into and be more committed to the assignment. Also, show them what they are learning and the importance of it. Lastly, think about what are the motivating factors for each person (career, money, power, success, etc).
  6. Delegate your e-mail! The average office worker spends 49 minutes managing his or her e-mail each day. And executives spend as much as four hours! It’s no wonder that smart bosses are delegating this time-draining task to their subordinates. According to one survey, 26 percent of administrative assistants screen their executives’ incoming e-mail and 43 percent ghostwrite responses under their bosses’ names.