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Ignite your Delegating Skills

Unleash the power of delegation with our tips on how to pass tasks to others, freeing up time to be the best you can be.

All the best leaders know how to delegate. Although we want to do it all, doing it all is impossible!

“When I was starting out as a manager I remember a mentor telling me to delegate but don’t abdicate, and this advice has held me in good stead over the years,” says Sally Stanleigh, partner at Toronto-based Business Improvement Architects, a management consulting firm that works with executives and senior managers around the world to help them improve operational effectiveness.

First off, it’s important to understand the power of delegation. “Delegation is an important personal time-management skill for leaders and can make a huge difference in getting work done on time and increasing personal productivity,” says Stanleigh. “It’s also a terrific opportunity to train subordinates and staff, giving them a chance to grow and develop by building their confidence and motivation.”

Here’s a four-step plan to help you on your road to successful delegation:

1. Delegate, don’t abdicate. Delegating does not mean relinquishing power or responsibility for completion of the task. “Make sure that you will be able to monitor the progress of task execution and know if the task is actually completed,” says Stanleigh. “If the risk of failure is high then you may not wish to delegate the task—or you may decide to monitor its execution very closely.”

2. Choose the right person. Find your go-to people and know who you can delegate to. “Some people can complete a task while standing on their head while others may require continuous supervision,” says Stanleigh. “Consider the level of risk associated with delegation, how much time is necessary for completion and your availability to supervise the person to whom you are delegating the project or task.”

3. Delegate the whole task. Give the task to your chosen person fully. “This is very important for the person’s motivation and performance, as well as for your satisfaction with the task results,” says Stanleigh.

4. Define criteria for success. Don’t let your delegated tasks flap in the wind. “As with all projects or tasks it’s very important to identify the measurements or the outcome you will use to determine that the project or task was successfully completed,” says Stanleigh. “This will make performance development planning more measurable and less subjective as well.”

Delegating Smarts

Every professional yearns to delegate something, anything! But knowing what to delegate and how is often the struggle. “When identifying tasks for delegation, be SMART about it,” says Stanleigh. “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound,” she says. “This way you will be less likely to micromanage and feel assured that the delegated task or project is on track. You’ll be able to influence the task or project’s direction and ultimate outcome.”

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