The art of delegation – and how to learn it

It’s an all-too-common scene. There’s your desk, almost invisible under a mountain of paper; there you are, giving yourself a crash course in something that would be best tackled by a specialist. There are your evenings and weekends, sacrificed to another deadline, another appointment. Office24’s telephone service can help you gain time, but if the whole organisation is depending solely on you, you’ll still be stretched to your limits. Hiring additional employees may seem like the light at the end of a particularly long and dark tunnel – until you realise, some months later, that your working hours haven’t actually changed at all.

Hiring additional help won’t help you unless you learn to delegate, and do it systematically and consistently. But precisely this is difficult for many of us. Have a look at the following statements and decide if you would agree – and see how you can delegate more effectively. Your company, your family, your friends and -last but certainly not least- your employees will thank you for it.

 1. “My employees aren’t qualified enough to take over for me; I always have to go over their work afterwards.”

Your motto at work is probably “I’m the only one who can do this!” – but this isn’t a leadership style you can maintain if you want your company to grow. You need to invest time into the induction and the in-house- and further training of your employees. The most important thing, however, is to be extremely selective when you hire new employees. You need to gather workers who really have the potential and the willingness to develop. After all, you can’t put lipstick on a pig!

2. “Whenever I delegate, I spend so much time answering my employees’ questions I might as well do it myself.”

Be honest here – do your employees really have all the information they need? It’s easy to forget, but your employees will have missed many of the discussions and considerations you made in the run-up to the task. They also may not have access to all the relevant data. Make sure that your employees have all the information they need to understand and complete the task! If they still have questions, point them to the correct sources so that they learn how to find the information for themselves – rather than relying on you.

3. “My employees never complete the tasks I delegate to them – they always need help working with other colleagues or external providers at critical stages of the project.”

It looks like you’ve delegated the task, but not the necessary authority required to complete it. Consider how the work processes for the task will run and what authorisations are needed. Inform everyone involved that the employee taking on the task has the authority to, for example, make decisions or outsource services as required for the task.

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