October 2016 Management Toolbox
4 Tips to Delegate More Effectively
Perhaps the most common reason people avoid delegating tasks to others is that the process can be a lot of work. And that work requires a commitment of time – a precious commodity to nearly every leader. However, if done well, delegating not only takes work off a leader’s plate, but it also helps employees develop and strengthen their skills, enabling them to make greater contributions to the organization. So, what are some key points to remember when you are delegating responsibilities?
1. Know your employees. If you have a job that you want others to complete, it is best if you delegate the work to those most capable of doing it, provided they have the time. A great number of managers have made the mistake of handing off a task to someone who lacked the ability or willingness – or both – to do the work. That is why it is critical that you get to know the people who report to you, including their strengths, weaknesses, personality styles and commitment to the job. Even if no one on your team has the exact skills required to perform the task, by getting a handle on everyone’s talents and struggles, you can delegate to the most qualified person.
2. Be clear. In order for a person to execute a task well, he or she needs specific guidance. This is likely where you will spend the most time during the delegation process, but it is worth it to ensure that your employee understands exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. Ideally, you should provide the employee with a written procedure to follow, plus you should have as many in-person meetings as necessary to ensure the employee has a clear understanding of his or her responsibilities.
3. Offer your trust. You cannot be an effective delegator if you do not trust the people to whom you delegate. Give them the upfront training they need, make sure they know you are always available to answer questions or address concerns, provide them with a timeline and then trust them to do the work. Check in periodically to see how things are going, but understand that micromanaging another person is rarely effective. Additionally, keep in mind that they may approach the job differently than you would – and that is OK provided they are not breaking any safety or other rules that could put them or others in harm’s way.
4. Say thank you. When an employee does a great job completing a task you delegated, let that person know. Positive reinforcement tends to garner greater employee loyalty, and the sense of a pride a person gets from a job well done is an excellent source of motivation. Even if the job does not go as planned, sit down with the employee to discuss what went well, as well as where things went wrong so those issues can be avoided in the future.
Are You a Good Communicator?
It is no secret that good communication is a cornerstone of leadership success, and yet many individuals still struggle to do it effectively. An important component of connecting with others is reflecting on how your words and actions are received by them. Whether you feel you have strong communication skills or you sometimes have difficulty interacting with those you manage, periodically ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly. Better still, ask these questions to someone you know will tell you the truth. Then use what you learn to become an even better communicator and leader.
Do you listen more than you talk? Talking too much can do you a great disservice. For starters, your employees may start to tune you out. But what is worse is that if you routinely monopolize conversations, you will rarely get to hear the great idea that someone has or better understand another person’s perspective about a challenge you are facing. It is not always easy to be a good listener, but it is worth working on this skill because it can lead to increased employee satisfaction, workplace safety, productivity and success.
Do you repeat what you hear? Even if you are a fantastic listener, how you interpret what someone else said and what they actually meant could be two different things. So, when you are having a conversation with someone, restate your understanding of what has been communicated; this will give the other person an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or confusion.
Do you effectively use a variety of communication styles? The appropriate type of communication for a situation depends on the situation itself. Email and phone calls are acceptable for many everyday conversations, but a number of scenarios are best handled face to face, such as when there is an urgent matter to be addressed, when you are delegating a big project or when you must deliver bad news. In addition, informal face-to-face interactions are an excellent way to form greater bonds with employees.
Do you write overly long emails? Much like people will tune you out if you talk too much, they will also rarely read to the end of lengthy emails. So, get to the point quickly; bullet points are a great tool to use if you have several points to make.
Are you aware of what your body language says to others? So much of what we communicate to other people has a great deal to do with how we sit, stand or otherwise position our bodies. Try to avoid crossing your arms as it can come across as standoffish. When you are speaking to someone, point your feet directly toward that person – this will show that you are actively engaged in the conversation and giving it your full attention. Additionally, refrain from slouching and maintain eye contact as much as possible.