Executive Coaching Blog
Delegating Tasks – Asking for Help the Right Way
Delegating tasks is one of the main responsibility of a manager – it seems so easy on theory and so useful to have someone help you do the things you need to accomplish.
The truth is often different from the dream – you assign a simple task to a co-worker or team member and you feel intimidated by the possibility of his failure or great success. If you can’t trust that the execution would be great, you better wonder which of your insecurities are hiding there. We are here to help with some great tips that will ease your life, gain you more trust and support from the co-workers and win managers on your side.
1. Assess the tasks and opportunities – Does it require specific knowledge? Who in your team has the qualifications to do it? Think of it as a way of getting to know people in the team better. If you are just starting to work with them, they would really appreciate you being thoughtful when assigning tasks – and they would value you more.
2. Set a deadline – This is crucial – you might know the due date but give the assigned team member a bit more time. This will give you the opportunity to fix things if they are not perfect and to react if the task is not done at all. And it’s much more easier to delegate a task when you know you still have time to do it yourself. Just don’t be too cautious or your work will double in time and quantity.
3. Ask politely – Now that you know who can do it and when does it need to be done, go ahead and ask. Maybe your first choice is fully booked with other tasks? If you are the team lead, make sure they understand they can turn down the task if they have no time on their schedule.
4. Don’t be overprotective – If you are going to delegate a task to someone else, remember that he carries the responsibility to follow the instructions and the deadline you assigned him. Don’t ask if he needs help every other hour – let him work on his own pace.
5. Say “Thank you” – As strange as it may sound, people forget to say those magic words. And they can mean a lot – even if the task is simple and it’s an official part of the work characteristics of your team. Showing appreciation for the good work and efforts will take you a long way – this is what makes you a leader and not just a manager.
6. Give credit – Acknowledge the fact that the task was accomplished in a great way. There are a couple of ways to do that – in front of the team (even a simple “Thank you” will help here) and/or in front of upper management (if this is a more specific task, don’t take credit all for yourself). Keep in mind that a tasks that are routine and don’t require much qualifications can be acknowledged with a simple “Thank you”.
7. Take credit – If you know how to delegate tasks and how to make the team more efficient, you deserve credit. Make sure you understand the different between credit for the execution of the task and credit for the management of the project.
8. Learn from your mistakes - Accept the fact that mistakes can happen. When you start working with new colleagues or assistants, start with simpler tasks and move forward as you feel confident with the person. This will ensure your great working relationship and will give you much more comfort with delegating bigger tasks as time goes by.
Don’t forget that there is such stuff as over-optimization and, in this case, over-delegation. Have you heard the story of a software developer that outsourced his work to a Chinese freelancer? He would delegate daily tasks as he received them and spend his day playing video games. He was caught eventually but not after several months of work paradise. The moral? When you decide to delegate tasks, make sure there are enough left for you to do Equanimity Executive offers executive business coaching for teams and individuals who seek to achieve the best results they can. Contact us for more information or a quote!