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Learning to Delegate More Effectively in the Workplace

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Guest Contributor

If you're in a management position, then you probably already know that a part of your responsibility is to properly delegate assignments to the people that you manage. However, if you're a good manager, then you also know that this sounds a lot easier than it actually is.

Delegating is not about "pushing work onto other people so that you don't have to do it". It's about assessing various employees' strengths and weaknesses, along with their personality types and skills, and giving out responsibilities based on those conclusions.

Why? Well, one reason is so to make sure no one person is inundated with work. Another is to have each staff person feel they have something of value to bring to the table beyond the initial reasons that they were hired. As a matter of fact, it has been proven that when employers respectfully delegate additional duties, it significantly boosts the morale and self-confidence in their employees.

Are you wondering how you can delegate more effectively in the workplace? Here are some ideas that will prove to be beneficial for you and the people who work for you (actually, the people who work with you).

Check your motives. When you're in a management position, it can be tempting to "delegate" when you're overwhelmed with the work that you have to do. There's a gentle balance between entrusting your staff with some additional tasks and unloading your responsibilities onto them. Therefore, with every assignment you're considering passing on to another individual, ask yourself the following three questions: "Why do I want to give this to someone else?", "Who will be able to do it just as well, if not better than I can?" and "Am I being fair to the person I'm passing this to when I consider the tasks that they are already responsible for?" If you answer those questions responsibly, the next step will be a lot easier for you.

Present the assignment as a request. Once you've determined that your motives are pure and you have the right person in mind for the particular duty (or set of duties) that you are thinking about, it's then time to present it to that individual. Now, here's where it gets a bit sticky. While technically, you don't_ have to ask_ them to do many of the things on your delegation list, it's still a courteous thing to do. Plus, while you may think they are the perfect person for the job, there may be other factors that you haven't considered.

Say, for instance, you want them to do a presentation before the board because based on the reports that they have turned in, you have determined that they are an excellent writer and researcher. However, what you may not know is that they are terrified to speak in front of a group of people. If you simply_ told them_ to do the task, they may have accepted out of fear of saying "no". But then they would have ended up embarrassing the company by freezing up during the presentation. This example alone shows why it's a good idea to discuss with your employee the additional responsibilities that you want to give them so that you both can determine if they will be a suitable match.

Be clear and concise. Suppose you are the head of the human resources department, you're going to be off for a couple of days and you would like one of your staff members to fill in for you. Now, you may already have your masters in human resources, but the person that you want to temporarily hold your position is still working on their undergraduate degree. Sometimes, the assumption can be that since an employer is good at what they do, then they should be able to catch on rather quickly to new assignments as well. This is not always the case. So, when delegating new tasks, make sure to be clear and concise with your instructions and allow them to ask any questions that they may have. Also, be sure to be patient during the process and be prepared for everything not going exactly as you may have liked. Remember, they are filling in for you, but they are not the person that was hired specifically for that job. Delegating is more about teaching others than expecting a perfect performance. It's about encouraging your subordinates to practice until their new assignments are done perfectly.

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