In the competitive world of business, practicing multitasking is a waste of time. For the simple reason, the human mind could not perform two cognitive activities simultaneously. The best it can do is shift focus at an impressive speed from one task to another.
Therefore, business leaders should put confidence more into their effective workforce to do the job right every time. Also, learning task delegation is essential to strengthening workforce teamwork.
Delegation is one of today's most important management skills. Deliver it well, and it will benefit both the business leaders and employees. Though it provides many benefits, not everyone practices it because of various challenges.
Critical Challenges of Delegation
There's a long list of challenges when delegating tasks and having a mindset that you are the only one who can do the job right the first time lands on the top spot. Business leaders can indeed perform any tasks better than anyone else because of their extensive training and experiences.
However, business is not a one-person show. Effectively delegating tasks will save time, giving you plenty of time to focus more on boosting business growth and development. Other critical challenges that come with task delegation are listed as follows:
Delegation requires you to allot time in explaining the task to your subordinate. Some believe it takes longer compared to accomplishing the task themselves.
Tip: Delegate tasks to the right employee
One efficient way to minimize the time spent on discussion is by assigning the employees with the right skills for the task. Since they have previous experience handling similar tasks, you only need to address the most critical points like the deadline, client-specific instructions, and more.
For example, the task on hand is for retail employee training. You must select a retail training specialist who is well-versed with various sales training techniques. Also, choose the best employee who can conduct training in-person and e-learning platforms.
II. Clearly expressing the desired results
Most business leaders can instantly identify the expected result by looking at the task on hand. Unfortunately, not many can convey what the outcome should look like. So instead of delegating the task, it would be wiser for them to do it themselves.
Tip: Effective communication is one key to overcoming this challenge
Ensure to deliver your instructions clearly and on point. Some people are visual learners, so it would be best to provide examples and supporting documents.
You are not a mind reader, so you can never tell whether the employee understands your instructions or not. Encourage employee feedback or give them plenty of time to ask questions for clarification. You can also pay attention to their non-verbal gestures to determine if they are stressed or uncomfortable with the tasks (muscle tension, avoiding eye contact, etc.).
III. Fear of failure
Some business leaders believe that the employees' failure is a reflection of their leadership. That's why they don't provide complete control to the assigned employee and end up micro-managing. Not only will this slows down the process, but it will also demotivate the employee.
Tip: Be attentive, but don't hover
You assign the task to an employee because you know they have the right skills to do it. Therefore, you need to let them perform the task their way. The best thing you can do is check their progress to know if they encounter any problems, have questions, or need help.
IV. Failing to recognize the difference between delegation and dumping
Proper task delegation is about helping the employees to be more productive. It comes with a multi-step process to ensure the delegated tasks match the employee's skill set perfectly. Unfortunately, there are instances that dumping has taken place.
There are times that none of the qualified employees are available. With the fear of causing delays, business leaders tend to assign it to anyone free at the moment. This process is called dumping, and it must be avoided at all costs.
The answer is simple - the success rate is low, and so is the employee's productivity. The only thing you can expect to increase is the stress level.
Tip: Effective methods to fix dumping mistake
The good news is there are solutions to correct your dumping mistake. Start by providing a realistic timeline that includes plenty of room for learning. Provide all the support they need - from one-on-one coaching to instruction guides.
V. Uncertain of the employee's capabilities
This scenario usually happens when the employee or manager is newly hired. Since the manager doesn't know the employee's true capabilities, they might feel hesitant about what tasks to delegate.
Tip: Start small
Testing the employee's capabilities is the most appropriate solution. You can start delegating small and simple jobs to determine their work pace and how well they perform the task. If you see great success, you can delegate a much challenging task.
If you have noticed a slow progress, provide them support and necessary training. Once you have gathered all the information you need, you can create a performance improvement plan to know how you can hone their skillsets. Don’t forget to observe the employee’s attitude as well, an excellent way to know how you can engage and motivate them.
8 Steps To Delegate Tasks Effectively
Overcoming the challenges of task delegation is one step closer to achieving success. But if you want to step up your business game further, here are easy-to-follow steps to delegate tasks effectively:
Step 1: Analyze and sort
Upon receiving the project, start the process by analyzing the available tasks and determining what needs to be done. Not all tasks can be delegated, so you need to sort them out and identify what you can delegate and not. Performance review, crisis management, and other core functions of your role are good examples of the tasks you cannot delegate.
You can follow it by setting your priorities. As standard, you can sort your priority tasks by difficulty - easy to the most complex. This is an important step because it allows you to equally distribute the tasks to your employees.
Tip: Use the Eisenhower method
The Eisenhower principle is another method to identify the tasks you need to prioritize quickly. You can use its four categories to split the tasks: important, not important, urgent, and not urgent.
Step 2: Create smart goals for success
Setting measurable goals is a crucial aspect of the task delegation's success. It helps you understand the right skills necessary for each task, anticipate work fluctuations, and more. It's also a plus that it provides a clear direction, focus, and motivation for everyone.
The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) method is the most suitable. It's designed to be achievable and possesses a greater chance of accomplishing tasks on time. In setting SMART goals, you must consider the five Ws questions:
Tip: One excellent way you can write a SMART goal
I'll take making more sales for Impossible apparel as an example goal.
Specific: The sales agent [key players involved in the task] will learn how to use Google ads and invest 40% of the revenue.
Measurable: The sales agent will work for five hours every day and double the sales within two months.
Achievable: The sales agent has an excellent understanding of finding the right marketplace to sell the products.
Relevant: The eCommerce store is reasonably successful and can handle tremendous growth in sales.
Time-bound: The task will start on Monday and get the first sale within a week.
Step #3: Find the right employee for the task
Part of the planning process is to identify the fully qualified employee for the job. So before creating a delegation plan, you must first identify the right person to perform specific tasks. Assuming that you accomplished the first two steps, you now have a complete understanding of the tasks to prioritize and the skillsets required for each.
This narrows down your options as a result. The most skilled employees are often the first choice due to their reliability. However, this can demotivate others who are also capable of doing the job right.
You can also pick an employee with the following attitude:
Task-oriented: The employees will go the extra mile just to get the job done and meet the required organizational goals.
Most organized: The employees who show the utmost punctuality and productivity at work. They always ensure all assigned daily tasks are accomplished so they can start fresh the next day.
Confident: They may not be the most skilled employees, but they are always up for the challenge and work graciously under pressure. They are also natural in making well-informed decisions.
Most eager: The employees who are willing to take on new responsibilities.
Tip: Treat inexperienced employees with basic skills fairly
Some business leaders often delegate small and general tasks to employees with basic skills. Mainly because they don't have sufficient time to train them for the more complicated tasks. Ensure to create a fair environment.
They may have basic skills, but it's enough for some tasks. All you need to do is assign the most suitable tasks that aren't time-sensitive. This will give you ample time to coach them or self-study.
For example, you can coach and assign an entry-level marketing specialist to create promotional ads for the best-selling products like hemp lotions or holiday-themed ads (e.g. Valentine’s Day lingerie 3-day sale).
Step 4: Prepare a task delegation plan
You can never go wrong with effective planning. It will help you make an informed decision while maximizing the utilization of your resources. In this step, you can now prepare a solid task delegation plan.
The delegation plan outlines the tasks, and each includes the following details:
Key players involved in the task
Complete instructions and description of the tasks
Established milestones and checkpoints
Description of the desired outcomes in detail
Expectations (work quality, communication requirement, reporting, etc.)
It also clarifies the person responsible and accountable for each task.
Tip #1: Make a reasonable timeline
A timeline serves as a reminder for your team to stay on track. In creating a reasonable timeline for each task, you must consider the members' respective work shifts, time off, current capacity, and work pace. Don't forget to allocate sufficient time for handling unexpected crises.
Tip #2: Avoid reverse delegation
Reverse delegation is a common management problem where an employee takes the assigned task back to the manager. It can hurt badly on their performance as a result. You can prevent it by identifying the potential areas of the task that they might struggle at and establishing awareness.
Step 5: Assign the level of authority
People have different strategies in performing a task and solving a problem. It's best to provide the proper level of authority to achieve success. As standard, you can give complete control.
Full authority level provides employees access to all resources available and does everything they need to accomplish the tasks effectively. They can also solve risks without asking permission from you.
Other authority levels available come with specific conditions, but the final decision-making remains in your control.
Tip: Stop the urge of micromanaging
Losing control over the tasks is a challenge for some managers. Mainly because they know the best way to finish them fast and effectively. The best thing to stop the urge of micromanaging is to focus more on goals and outcomes when discussing them with the delegatee.
Step 6: Provide access to all resources available
Whether the delegatee is experienced or new, it's right to provide all the critical information when handing over the task. Standard operating procedures (SOP) are the key documents you need to deliver because they include all the directions and processes.
You can also provide supporting documents such as the following:
Tip: Provide the necessary tools
Most companies are using different modern tools to accomplish tasks. Let's take an Amazon agent who requires to constantly adjust the client's product prices as an example. You can provide them with a repricing tool like Bqool to speed up the process without sacrificing accuracy.
Step 7: Establish a safety net
No matter how experienced and skilled your employees are, there will be a point where they will face a completely new task. A safety net comes in handy in this situation because it provides everything the employee needs to succeed. You can establish your safety net in the form of a person (coach) or advanced training and resources.
At first, you must keep a close eye on the employee's progress. Monitor if they are doing well and entertain the questions they have raised. Since failure is inevitable, you have to encourage them to stay motivated.
You can slowly provide independence upon seeing success through their work.
Tip: Use root cause analysis for mistakes
A new task provides a new experience. The employees have a high chance of encountering problems or mistakes along the way. You can conduct a root cause analysis to prevent it from happening in the future.
Step 8: Provide a centralized workplace
Convenience and accessibility are two reasons to keep all aspects of the task delegation in one secure location. You can assign tasks, track progress in real-time, and generate reports. At the same time, your team members can easily view the assigned tasks and stay updated with the latest changes.
It's a plus that it promotes open communication and eases sharing of documents. Task and project management apps are popular because of their smart automation. You can create custom workflows to complete basic and repetitive tasks without human intervention.
A few of the tasks you can automate are listed as follows:
Social media posting
Tip: Choosing the right app for your business
Pick the app that suits your business size and requirements. Do you schedule meetings regularly? If so, you can choose the app that offers chat and video conferences.
As the pandemic hits, most companies are forced to run the business operation from any part of the world. Therefore, you can also choose the app hosted in the cloud and designed for a remote working setup.
Mastering the art of task delegation brings more significant success in the business. It makes business leaders more effective and promotes professional development for every organization member.
Though it isn't easy to deliver, there are several ways to hone your delegation skills. Establishing a task hierarchy system is one excellent way to quickly identify which tasks need to delegate and what's not. You can also assess tasks based on their urgency and complexity.
For the entire process, having a complete guideline is handy. It's an assurance that you will cover all aspects of task delegation from planning to execution.
Don't forget to give the proper credit and rewards to the individuals doing the job right. It keeps your employees feel motivated and strengthen the trust within the team.
This is a guest post submitted by Burkhard Berger.