Improve Your Delegation Skills and Get More Done

For many business leaders, it can seem like they’re the only ones who can get important things done. Sooner or later these individuals come to realize there are only so many hours in the day and that it’s simply impossible to do everything (even at the executive level) themselves.

We like to emphasize with our leaders that delegation of tasks is an effective leadership policy. This can entail, for example, determining methods to delegate operational decisions on such matters as the establishment of green receiving targets, new kiln drying schedules, specific hardwood lumber sorting tables or even unique S4S lumber packaging needs.

Promoting delegation as a key element of company culture yields several benefits. For example, executives can free up more time to focus on strategic planning, you can establish a meaningful “training ground” for up-and-coming employees, or you can enhance your ability of empowering your workforce to assume greater responsibility.

When we think of effective delegation, these are a few areas of importance that we find helpful.

Be strategic. The whole idea behind effective delegation is making sure the right people handle the right tasks. Delegation is “not just a means to offload your to-do list,” notes CMOx. Leaders should cultivate “a deep understanding of your team’s capabilities and the foresight to see how these can be harnessed to drive the company forward.”

Start small. When assigning tasks to others on your team, focus on modest goals to start with. As these tasks are successfully completed, steadily expand the range and importance of future tasks. This boosts confidence among employees, motivating them to assume more responsibility in the future.

Be clear with expectations. Assigning an important task to an employee or team without defining anticipated outcomes can result in frustration all around. “Define in detail the standards you expect, ideally using a metric to quantify success,” advises human performance expert Alexander Young. Make sure “the expected outcome … is clear and easy to understand.”

Offer training as needed. Focus on giving people the best information and resources needed to handle delegated tasks. Offering in-depth training through webinars and/or hands-on experience also helps ensure a fruitful outcome.

Demonstrate trust in your employees’ efforts. Delegation and micromanagement do not go together. Enable employees “to self-monitor and report on their progress to foster a sense of ownership and accountability,” notes TaskDrive. Assume a “trust but verify approach and give team members the space to solve problems” on their own.

Request and offer feedback. Employees trusted with an important task obviously wish to know if they are succeeding in their efforts. It’s important to provide feedback but it’s equally valuable to get feedback from the individual or team handling your project assignment.

“If a task wasn’t completed as assigned, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism,” advises Harvard Business School. Your criticism can help ensure a more favorable outcome later on. When the assignment is completed to your satisfaction, “remember to provide positive feedback and show your appreciation” for a job well done.

The most effective business leaders understand on an instinctual level that they simply can’t get everything accomplished by themselves. They welcome opportunities to delegate tasks to employees and help them achieve professional success—and possibly go on to become business leaders themselves. Thant’s what we are trying to do throughout the Baillie Group.

What else has worked for you in the past? Let us know!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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