Delegation isn’t an action. It’s a process.
What many people mistake for delegation itself, the assigning of a task, is actually just one of many steps along the way. In fact, when you first assign a task to an employee, you’re really only just getting started.
The first time an employee takes on a new task that was once your responsibility, you may find that the quality and efficiency isn’t up to your level. Good leaders understand that this isn’t a failure — it’s a necessary part of the delegation process.
Provided you’ve selected the right person for the job, delegation will reap rewards in the long term; but it can — and often will — generate some setbacks at first. As in all things, patience is a virtue. But while patience is necessary, there are things you can do to minimize the time it takes to see the desired results.
Equip your delegate for success
A surefire way to have delegation work against you is to simply pass off tasks and expect your delegates to fly blind. Before your delegate ever gets down to work, make sure they have the proper knowledge, skills, and resources at their disposal to do the job correctly. While you’ll likely delegate tasks to professionals who are experienced in that field, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll come fully equipped to fulfill your unique needs.
Leaders that rely on mind-readers are consistently disappointed… and consistently disliked.
Communicate clearly what it is you expect from your delegates, and provide them with all the information they need to succeed. The more precisely you describe your expectations, the more accurate your delegate will be in hitting the mark.
And that necessity for communication persists throughout the delegation process. After orienting your delegate, you must remain ready and willing to answer their questions and provide guidance when needed. Remember, delegation requires the investment of not just time, but also energy and effort. And as the relationship matures, your delegate’s needs will lessen, and their outcomes and efficiency will improve.
Being a “do-it-all” CEO is never sustainable. At some point, CEOs of even the smallest start-ups must learn to let go and start delegating to others. Delegation increases efficiencies, improves performance, and frees leaders up to focus on their vision.
But in order to reap those rewards, leaders must first be willing to invest.
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