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"What separates those who achieve from those who do not is in direct proportion to one's ability to ask for help." --Donald Keough, former President of Coca-Cola

How many times throughout the workday do you look at your to-do list and think, "I'll never get this all done?" Do you constantly feel overwhelmed? Are you working yourself into exhaustion? Leadership roles are demanding, to be sure, but if you simply can't find enough time in the week to get everything done, it might be time for you to learn how to delegate more effectively.

There is no honor in working too hard, all the time. You've got a team of people working for you who are ready, willing and able to take on more responsibility. If you've reached the point where you feel like you are drowning, delegation could be your life preserver.

Get To Delegating

Delegation means much more than simply assigning tasks and projects. True delegation gives someone ownership for a project and accountability for results. It also means getting out of the way and allowing that person to have the freedom to make decisions about how to approach the project and achieving the desired result. In the end, it's all about having the ability to let go.

Here's how to delegate without careening into micromanaging territory:

  1. Plan - Don't just assign tasks to employees willy-nilly. Sit down and create a plan using the 80% test. If someone else can do a job at 80% of your level, give it to them. Manage the task, offer feedback and help develop that person to reach 100%.
  2. Choose the right people - The 80% rule comes with a caveat. Not everyone can handle a task you give to them. Choose wisely, and be clear about your expectations. Remember people will work to your level of expectation, so communicate well.
  3. Put it in writing - Discuss a delegated task with the employee you choose to manage it. Follow up in writing, and ask them to respond that they have received the note, and that they accept the task and the deadline. When something is in writing, it enhances accountability.
  4. Delegate slowly - Don't dump a litany of tasks on a single person. Offer projects one at a time, giving the employee time to plan and achieve results.
  5. Schedule check-ins - With your employee, agree on check-in times and frequency. Avoid asking for updates until your scheduled time. Micromanaging a task can create negative results.
  6. Follow up - Share with the employee the way in which you will use the results of the project to help create a connection to the "big picture."
  7. Say thank you - A little bit of appreciation goes a long way.
  8. Reward a job well done - Reward great results with praise and continued delegation.

When you learn how to delegate effectively, you do more than just free up from workday clutter. You create a culture of empowerment for your team, allowing them the freedom to grow in their jobs. Empowered employees are engaged employees and engaged employees are loyal. Stop drowning under a pile of work and start delegating now.


Larry Hart

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