As a business owner or senior person in your organisation, knowing what and how to let go can be really challenging. Taking on a new line report, team or contractors, your role immediately becomes one of ‘managing’ not ‘doing’. Managing outcomes through others is an entirely different skill set and one which rarely gets nurtured effectively in senior roles.

Effective delegation is critical in these scenarios. But the question is, how to delegate effectively?

Delegation isn’t simple and it’s certainly not a quick fix. Delegation can’t be rushed and delegation isn’t always the answer to every challenge. But, as the title for this post states, it is an art and when it’s done well, it makes you a better business leader and it develops the skills and abilities of those you work with, for the benefit of your business.

So there really is little to loose by taking just a little bit more time to do it properly. And in this post, I’m going to tell you how.

But first, my clients are successful and intelligent leaders. And of course they all know what delegation is and why it can be so helpful, when it’s done well. So what’s the problem? Why is delegating so challenging?

The biggest challenge when it comes to delegation is this: Assumptions. The unconscious assumptions that we all make about ourselves and our colleagues/contractors. Assumptions related to delegation typically include:

  • I can do it better/quicker myself
  • I don’t trust my colleague to do it well enough
  • My colleagues/contractors are too busy/overloaded already
  • I’m too busy to show them
  • I like doing it and I don’t want to delegate!

Do any of these sound familiar?

If so, you’re not alone. Here are my 5 top tips that can help you to think about delegation differently:

1. Invest a little time in delegation. It will save you time in the long run.

No one should ever say that delegation is quicker the short term. Because it isn’t. But over time, delegation can and will save you critical time that you get back to focus on more strategic activities. Take the time to review your work and that of your colleagues to plan what you can let go of in a routine, sustained way. Then spend time with your colleagues defining what you expect.

2. Set the “non-negotiables”, but let go of the “how”.

Building on the point above, with your team or colleague that you are delegating to, take the time to clarify what EXACTLY you expect. Make sure you both have the same understanding of the end result, including if there are any non-negotiables, such as timescales, dependencies, things being done in a certain font/brand etc. Take the time to do this, but then let go of how your colleague will go about it. They will find a way that feels right for them, and giving them this space and trust creates opportunities for innovation and improvement.

3. Provide space and time for check-ins to review and to provide feedback along the way. You’ll get better outcomes this way.

Especially if the work is complex, time consuming or high risk/high profile, build in check-ins right from the start so that you can keep track of progress and course correct along the way. If you can, build in extra time for contingencies. Do this from the outset, you’ll get much greater levels of commitment from your colleagues and they’ll get a blueprint which they can use for the next project.

4. Trust that your colleagues want to do a good job, show them you trust them.

As obvious as it sounds, don’t take this for granted. Let your colleagues know that you trust them do this job and then sit back and watch how they go the extra mile to make you proud. Its a basic human trait, so use it to both your advantages!

5. Don’t delegate everything that you love!

You need to enjoy your work too. I see this in my coaching. My clients bring in support to help run their organisations, and then they realise the bits they loved to do, they are no longer in control of. It’s ok to retain some aspects of the things you love, that’s what gives you purpose. Find a way you can offload the other stuff. Or reframe your responsibilities so you still keep your finger in the pie.

Need more help?

My one-hour intensive coaching session with me on effective delegation might just be for you. Find out more here: Pricing

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