No one person can do everything, so the person in charge must learn to delegate effectively. Time is your most precious commodity. No matter how hard you try, you can’t do everything by yourself. Many supervisors avoid delegating responsibilities for a variety of reasons: you might be one of those who believe that to get it done right you have to do it yourself, or maybe you are one who fears that you will be outshined by your employee.
There are, granted, some things that should not be delegated and should be done by the person in charge. There are often sensitive projects that you need to complete yourself. If the project is in any way confidential, be very careful about delegating the work. Try very hard, however, to give your employees something really interesting to do once in a while and not just the routine, humdrum duties.
It is critical for success that duties be assigned to the person best suited for the project. Consider the skill level, motivation, and dependability of your employees when trying to decide to whom to assign a specific duty or part of a project. All employees are not, unfortunately, created equal, and some are just better at certain things than others. Certain people will be more efficient than others depending on the area in which they thrive. At the same time, try not to typecast your employees. Give them opportunities to broaden their horizons and become more valuable to the team. Matching the proper person to each task can be difficult. Start small and try hard to be patient.
When you are assigning unfamiliar duties, be very specific when you explain what you need. By detailing an assignment, you leave no room for confusion and, therefore, no room for error. If you have a long list of verbal instructions, type them out. This will give your employees something to refer to when they are performing a task that is unfamiliar to them. If possible, train two people to do the same thing. This way, they can refer to one another for questions, rather than coming to you. It is also essential that your employees have a clear understanding of their authority in each situation.
When a decision needs to be made regarding their assignment, should they just use their best judgment or should they come to you immediately for clarification? This will be one of your hardest decisions to make, because it could mean the difference success and failure. When in doubt, retain control. Once an employee has proven his/her capability, give him/her more responsibility in the decision-making department.
Measure the performance of employees and delegated projects. Explain to them how performance will be measured and let them know the level of accountability that comes with the task. Large projects may be easier to monitor if they are broken into smaller segments. Spread the assignments through your staff and have them report to you after each segment of the project has been finished. Also, get feedback from your employees by way of meetings and reports either daily, weekly, or monthly as appropriate. Staying informed limits the possibility of failure. As a supervisor, you are responsible and accountable for your employees and their work.
One of the most important parts of delegation is coaching. When you delegate an assignment, make it clear that employees can come to you with questions. If you staff members complete an assignment but don’t do a good job, find out why – pinpoint what went wrong and take steps to address the issue. When tasks are completed effectively, however, give your employees the
Recognition they deserve. Your employees will value being given credit for their work. This not only makes the employees feel good, but it will also motivate them to continue their on-the-job success.
If someone starts out in a one-person business operation which continues to grow until it becomes necessary to hire employees, that person sometimes has difficulty learning to delegate after having done it all for a length of time.
“I’m going from doing all of the work to having to delegate the work – which is almost harder for me than doing the work myself. I’m a lousy delegator!” Alton Brown, American TV personality, celebrity chef, author, actor, and cinematographer.