The New Rules of Work: Learning To Delegate

In this EIGHT PART SERIES we chronicle the new ways to NAVIGATE YOUR CAREER in the MODERN WORKPLACE. This week we’re discussing HOW TO DELEGATE


You probably know that leadership isn’t about job title; leaders can exist anywhere in an organisation, regardless of their role or the number of employees they supervise. But all effective leaders do have one important skill in common, and it’s one you can practice now, wherever you are in your career.

Whether you’re an expert exec or a novice manager, keep these ten commandments of delegation in mind the next time you hand off an assignment.

1. Be patient

The first time you delegate any task, it is almost certainly going to take longer than doing it yourself. That’s normal. Over time, it will get done faster.

2. Don’t simply delegate the things you hate

Delegation is not shifting work you should be doing to someone else’s plate—it’s getting those tasks you shouldn’t be doing off yours. It’s im­portant to know the difference. If you ask someone else to take on writing the employee newsletter because you need to focus on external, client-facing communication, that’s okay. If you ask someone to take it on simply because you don’t enjoy doing it, it isn’t.

3. Pick the right people

Make sure the person you’re delegating to is qualified to do the task. Better yet, try to match the tasks you delegate with each of your team members’ best skills and strengths. Then . . .

4. Explain why you’re delegating

When you select people to delegate a task or project to, tell them why you chose them specifically, and how you hope to see this help them grow.

5. Be specific

Be specific with your asks, including why a task needs to be done, the deadlines, and the expected results. Vague instructions can beget ter­rible output.

6. Provide training

Delegation doesn’t just mean handing off a task—you need to also make sure your team members have the resources and training they need to do the job.

7. Touch base

Throughout the course of the project or task, always schedule time to touch base. The more complex the task, the more often you may need to check in.

8. …but don’t micromanage

Once you’ve delegated, trained, and set up a schedule for touching base, back away from the project. To succeed (and to help your employee suc­ceed), you have to let go. Your employee may approach the task differ­ently from how you would do it, and that’s okay.

9. Offer feedback

Any time you delegate something, provide feedback on the end result (both positive and constructive). It’s an extra step, but making sure you’ll get exactly what you need going forward—and helping others get better over time—will only help in the long run.

10. Say thanks

Hey, your employee or colleague is saving you time and providing value. Say thank you!

Copyright © 2017 by Million Things LLC. Extracted from THE NEW RULES OF WORK by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. Published by Orion Spring at £14.99 in paperback. Also available in audio and ebook.

Whether you are starting out in your career, looking to advance or navigating a mid-career shift, this eight part series will provide you with the tips and advice you need to thrive in the new world of work. Stay tuned for the next excerpt from The New Rules of Work next Monday.

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