Delegating is absolutely necessary for the success of any manager. Some managers, especially new and younger managers, are not comfortable with delegating tasks to their team members. These younger managers come from a generation of DIY, or do-it-yourself. They are used to relying on themselves and are very independent. This can often be reflected in their management style and can sometimes prove detrimental if they can’t learn to depend on their teams for support.
Delegating can be difficult for many reasons. For some, it’s difficult to let go of the “if you want something done right, you have done it yourself” mentality. For others, it’s a matter of inexperience and not knowing which tasks to delegate and how. According to London Business School professor John Hunt, only 30 percent of managers think they can delegate well, and among them, only one-third are considered good delegators by their subordinates.
It’s clear that managers—especially new and younger managers—need to learn how to delegate effectively for their team’s (and ultimately the company’s) success. Here are the top 7 tips that new managers need to know to successfully delegate.
Trust the team. Perhaps the most important thing new managers must remember is to trust their coworkers. Delegation is all about trust. If a manager doesn’t trust his team, he’s never going to assign them tasks because he’ll think they’ll either never be done in time or they’ll be done wrong. This gets to the root of the problem for managers that don’t delegate because of the “do it yourself if you want it done right” mantra. In order to delegate effectively, new managers need to let go and trust their team.
Choose the right person. A new manager usually has a lot on his plate, but no matter how busy he is, he would do right by getting to know the members of his team. Each person on a team has particular skills and experiences. Knowing these skills will help when it comes time to delegate tasks to the right person. For instance, knowing that a certain employee has experience in design software means a manager will know whom to delegate design-related tasks to, or a manager might delegate a database update to someone on the team who is an Excel whiz.
Choose the right tasks. Delegating is about maximizing the manager’s time and his team’s. It’s about lightening the load so that the manager can focus on more strategic, big-picture thinking. The main tasks that should be delegated are those that either the manager can’t do himself, like those that require the use of a specific software; tasks that tend to be more time-consuming, like updating databases; or tasks that need constant follow-up, like managing a social media account. Depending on the manager and how much he trusts his team members, other tasks may be appropriate to delegate, like coming up with a strategic SEO plan or revamping the department’s web presence.
Give clear instructions. Many managers are under the impression that delegation is time-wasting because it takes longer to explain the tasks than to do them themselves. In some cases that may be true, but for the vast majority of tasks, delegating is actually a time-saver. This is, of course, so long as clear instructions and assignments are given. New managers should learn to strike a balance between talking down to team members by explaining too much and providing them with enough information for them to successfully complete the task.
Establish a system. One way to help the point above is to establish a system when delegating tasks. Managers should establish a communication path between themselves and their team so that instructions and deadlines are clear for each delegated task. By establishing a system, managers can more easily monitor the completion of tasks as well. They can check in with their team and find out who has questions or who needs support, identifying issues before any time is wasted. This is also an excellent way for the manager to learn more about his team—who completes tasks quickly, who usually takes longer, and who typically needs help.
Delegate responsibility. Aside from trusting his team with successfully completing their tasks, a manager must also trust them with the responsibility and authority to do so. Without that trust, a team can’t succeed, as delegated tasks will be seen as one-offs and not as signs of trust in their professional ability. When employees are given the responsibility and authority they deserve (and of course, it should also be earned) they appreciate it and in return are more likely to excel in their assigned tasks.
Acknowledge the effort. Managers wouldn’t be where they are without their team. Without at least one person to manage, they wouldn’t be in that position. Acknowledging the team’s work and effort can go a long way toward inspiring loyalty among team members. It can also help provide the team with real satisfaction for a job well done and establish a basis for performance reviews. New managers can think of it this way: just as they would share the blame with their team if a task were not done right, so too should they share the praise when it is.