Delegating Effectively in 6 Steps

Delegating Effectively in 6 Steps image DATE: June 30, 2022

Delegating gets you (and others) ready for greater responsibilities and promotion, and offers the organization greater continuity while minimizing the loss of talent.

In a recent episode of “The Man & The Millennial” Show, we explored a secret to getting promoted that too many people overlook. Namely, delegating.

There is no perfect approach to delegating tasks. However, there are some steps in the delegation process that need to be clearly identified and clearly followed for delegating to be a win-win-win for your employee, the organization, and yourself.

Following these six steps will help you ensure you handle the conversation to delegate tasks the right way.

Set the Stage

Right up front share what the vision, purpose, and end goals are for the task/s you’re delegating.

This helps your people understand exactly what they are working toward, why it is important, and what success will look like.

What Not How

Hear that very carefully. You don’t want to tell the person you’re delegating to how to do the job — that’s micromanagement, not delegating.

But you do want him/her/they to know what the end result will look like. Do you want the results to be faster, cheaper, safer, or higher quality? Whatever it is, be specific.

Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, Begin with the end in mind.

Your people won’t know what the end should be unless you share it with them.

What Are The Limits?

In other words, don’t delegate a task to someone, let them go out with great excitement and enthusiasm, only to tell them later they overstepped important parameters.

It is defeating to hear:

“Oh, wait a minute, you can’t do that because we don’t have the time.”

Or…

“We don’t have the money to do that.”

Or…

“You can’t use those resources on this.”

Right up front, tell them:

  1. This is your task.
  2. The end results should look like this.
  3. And you are limited by these parameters (time, money, other resources, authority, etc.)

Did I Hear You Say…

In the conversation to delegate tasks, a lot of information is shared all at once. It is the responsibility of the person delegating the tasks to ensure the message is heard and received correctly.  

If anyone messes that up, it’s the one doing the delegating — not the one receiving the assignment.

The person you’re delegating to may be thinking,

“I’m still thinking about number one and they’re already on number three. I don’t even know what was said about number two!”  

That’s not a bad thing! It’s likely your employee is excited about the process and their mind is whirling with ideas. But you’ve moved forward with additional steps and they may have missed important information along the way.

For clarification, simply pause the conversation and ask:

“Okay, I know I have given you a lot of information. Tell me what have you heard me say so I can make sure I have communicated clearly and correctly.”

What they repeat back to you may be incorrect.  Verbally take responsibility for not communicating clearly and then move forward with the correct information.

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That Gives Me An Idea…

Back to those thoughts that were swirling in your employee’s mind…

“I would like to hear some of your initial ideas for this particular project — what are your first thoughts?”

Now, frankly, don’t expect too much because you’ve just now delegated the project to them. But, even in the early stage of delegation, ideas surface. You want to have at least an idea of what they are thinking.

But this is really important to keep in mind.

Ask about their ideas and plans before you tell them what you think good plans would be.

This way they feel freer to share their ideas. The point is, that leaders should want their employees to feel free to share ideas and thoughts without hindering or hampering that flow. The delegation conversation can be a great place for that!

Getting In On When

When you delegate a task,  create a completion date.  I’m a big believer that, whenever possible, create a negotiated completion date. In other words, I’m assigning the responsibility, however, I want my employee to be in on identifying and determining what that completion date would be.

For example, you can ask:

“So when do you think you can have this task completed?”

Allow them to respond and, if necessary, negotiate the timeline as needed. Also, include a midway follow-up meeting to discuss the progress of the project.  This will ensure that no one is waiting until the last minute to start the task.

Delegating in 6 Steps

Using these six steps when delegating tasks and responsibilities truly makes delegation a collaborative effort! Give it a try and watch the success you, your people, and your organization realizes!

ICYMI

“The Man & The Millennial” Show: Succession Planning & Delegation, Episode 12

LISTEN NOW

About The Author:

Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on engaged leadership and communication. His most recent book is “Earning The Right To Be Heard," a primer for creating greater influence and opportunities. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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