We’ve all had them — the times we’ve tried to delegate and things turned out all wrong. I recently had three days to turn around a focus group report for the executives of a client. I hired a virtual assistant to transcribe the discussion. The report I got back was missing segments of the meeting and had a number of typographical errors. I had to redo the report, causing me to scramble to meet the deadline.
Times like these make you want to say, “I’m never going to delegate again!” But is that the best approach?
The Economic Impact
Even beyond your personal productivity, there’s an economic benefit to delegating. You probably haven’t thought much about the connection between delegating, employee engagement, and the financial outcomes of your business. Delegating has a direct influence on employee engagement, which has a direct impact on the bottom line.
Gallup’s research on employee engagement reveals 12 primary conditions of engagement that managers can influence. Delegating can have a direct influence on the four engagement conditions listed below:
- #3 At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
- #5 My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
- #6 There is someone at work who encourages my development
- #12 This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
Delegating creates opportunities for employees to use their skills and develop. And, when given important and challenging assignments, they feel a greater sense of ownership and commitment.
How does this impact the bottom line? Gallup measured the performance outcomes of high engagement on customer ratings, profitability, sales production, and employee turnover and found that “business/work units scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly double their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.”
If you’re a small business owner, delegating or outsourcing will allow you to focus on closing potential opportunities that grow your revenue.
Take a moment to think about the economic impact of delegating or not delegating on your business.
What To Delegate
One of your reasons for not delegating may be that you’re not sure what to delegate.
Leaders often think of delegating in terms of “what tasks can I offload?” Employees know when they’re being dumped on. A better question is: “What important work or projects can I engage others in?” The question I pose to leaders I work with is: “How can I shift responsibilities so that employees (or other support resources) are empowered in their work?”
As you develop your potential list of work to delegate, also think about what critical work you should personally focus on. Consider which responsibilities best play to your strengths and expertise. What responsibilities best fit the strengths and expertise of others on your team? What potential partners can fill particular skill gaps?
To further refine your list, also evaluate factors such as:
- Would this provide an opportunity for personal growth?
- What level of expertise is required?
- What are the associated risks?
- Is this work time sensitive?
- What is the availability of the employee?
- Do other people need to be involved? At what levels of the organization?
- Could all or a portion of this work be delegated?
- Is face-to-face communication required or is virtual acceptable?
How To Delegate
In order to position yourself for success when delegating, use a structured and thoughtful process so that you’re clear on what needs to be done, and, therefore, are better able to communicate expectations and manage the outcomes. Remember, even though you delegate, you still are ultimately responsible. This worksheet can help you.
These 5 C’s of Delegating should be your roadmap:
- Get clear on the work to be done, the expectations and outcomes. Outline the pertinent details for the assignment:
- Why you’re delegating
- Overview / rationale for the assignment
- Outcomes / deliverables
- Assumptions & risks
- Skills / expertise needed
- Prepare the information in a format that you can use to clearly communicate
- Anticipate and address questions that may arise
- Initiate contact with the designee
- Share the importance of the assignment
- Explain why the person was chosen, which will help to inspire and build commitment
- Describe the assignment; provide pertinent background information
- Clearly articulate the objectives & desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
- Set expectations regarding task details, ownership, timelines, deadlines, milestones
- Clearly identify constraints and boundaries, including time, budget, resources, lines of authority, and accountability
Confirm Understanding & Agreement
- Ask for feedback and input using reflective discussion & listening
- Listen for and address concerns
- Agree on expectations for outcomes
- Agree on and schedule follow-up; determine what will be reviewed and when
- Follow-up at agreed timeframes
- Focus on results; allow for creativity with the approach
- Don’t hover. Make yourself available as needed
- Inquire about and remove challenges
- Provide ongoing feedback and praise
- Celebrate success
What’s Your Next Step?
Begin with the questions in the ‘What to Delegate’ section above. Your perspective and attitude toward delegating will set the stage. Then, create two lists. The first list will comprise the responsibilities that you need to continue to own. The second list will comprise the potential assignments that you can begin delegating. Prioritize your delegating list, identify the potential designees, and determine the potential timing to get started. Follow the five C’s of the delegating process to ensure your delegating outcomes are a success.
1 The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes, 2016 Q12® Meta-Analysis: Ninth Edition, Gallup, Inc., April 2016
About the Author
Vivian Blade works with ambitious professionals who are determined to win. She is a recognized author, keynote speaker, trainer and executive coach whose passion is to Build Leaders and Develop Excellence, empowering organizations and individuals to achieve their full potential.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or to schedule a free, no obligation talent management strategy session, or individual career coaching strategy session, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Career Empowerment Coach
Author: FuelForward: Discover Proven Practices to Fuel Your Career Forward
Contributing Author: Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You’ll Love (published by Association for Talent Development)
www.vivianblade.com Visit Vivian’s Blog
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