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When You Hesitate to Delegate: Communication Strategies for Leaders

Leadership Communication

By Mariann Wafer

People often struggle with delegation due to various reasons:

  • Fear that explaining the task will take longer than doing it themselves.

  • Uncertainty about the task's priority.

  • Desire to work on interesting projects personally.

  • Guilt about assigning more work to others.

  • Uncertainty about who else can handle the task.

  • The need to feel important to their team.

Best Practices for Effective Delegation

Delegating work not only enhances your management skills, but also supports your team's professional development. Ensure your team members have the necessary information and support to excel in their delegated tasks.

1. Identify Work to Delegate

Not everything should be delegated. Evaluate the importance of the task and its implications before delegating. Consider delegating work that will recur, aligns with team members' interests, or connects to their goals.

2. Practice Letting Go

Delegating can be challenging. Start by delegating smaller tasks and gradually work your way up. Be patient with yourself and your team members as you build your delegation skills.

3. Clarify Priorities

Understand the priority and difficulty of tasks to make informed delegation decisions. Connect tasks to team and company goals for clarity.

4. Understand Each Team Member's Strengths

Ensure team members are set up for success by delegating tasks aligned with their skills and interests.

5. Provide Context and Guidance

Offer guidance, due dates, context, documents, tools, priorities, goals, and expectations when handing off a task. Ensure team members are well-prepared to succeed.

6. Invest in Training

Train team members for tasks that are currently your sole responsibility. View training as an investment in your team and your workload. Encourage problem-solving instead of providing immediate solutions.

7. Prioritize Communication and Feedback

Establish open communication channels for questions and schedule regular check-ins. Seek feedback from team members and provide constructive feedback on their work.

8. Focus on Results

Encourage achieving desired results rather than micromanaging the process. Allow team members to develop their own approach to tasks, fostering trust.

9. Trust but Verify

Give team members space to complete the task, periodically checking in to offer support. Implement a review cycle for new types of delegated work, ensuring its success.

10. Give Credit

Acknowledge and credit the team member responsible for completing delegated tasks. Avoid taking credit for their work and show appreciation for their contributions.

Where do I begin? Go on a mission to do the following within the next 5 days:

1. Understand Team Capacity: Always ask and assess the current capacity of your team members; avoid making assumptions.

2. Establish Interim Milestones: Set interim milestones to track progress and validate the quality of work being done.

3. Set Clear Priorities: Maintain a clear view of all priorities and share the top 1, 2, and 3 priorities with your team. This alignment ensures that everyone is working towards the same set of priorities, promoting effective teamwork.


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