While managers have their own set of tasks to complete, their main focus is ensuring that employees are successfully doing what they have been assigned to do. Competent managers understand the importance of delegation as it gives them the time to strategize, collaborate with colleagues, effectively supervise employee performance and provide them with regular feedback.
However, many managers struggle with delegation, often leading to overburdening and inefficient use of resources, missed growth opportunities, and decreased team performance. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this problem, identify tasks suitable for delegation, and provide tips for effective delegation.
Why do managers fail to delegate?
According to World Economic Forum, 9 out of 10 managers do not delegate enough. Some of the most common reasons for that are:
Control and micromanagement
The study shows that people have a tendency to think work performed under the control of a supervisor is better than work performed without as much supervision. That’s why some managers have a strong desire to maintain control over tasks and outcomes.
Lack of time
Managers often face demanding schedules and pressing deadlines, leaving them with limited time for delegation. They may feel that taking the time to delegate tasks properly, including explaining requirements and providing necessary guidance, would require more effort and time than simply completing the tasks themselves.
Some managers have high standards and believe that only they can complete a task well enough. Nevertheless, this perception is often not reality-based, as people tend to evaluate work more highly if they are involved in it.
Lack of trust
Delegation requires trust in the capabilities and reliability of team members. Managers who lack confidence in their employees’ skills, experience, or commitment may hesitate to delegate tasks. They may feel it’s easier and quicker to handle the tasks themselves rather than risk potential mistakes or delays caused by others.
Which tasks can be delegated?
To delegate effectively, managers must identify tasks that can be appropriately assigned to team members. To answer this question, they can use a popular time management tool — the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. This matrix divides tasks into four categories: Urgent and Important, Not Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not Important, and Not Urgent and Not Important.
1. Urgent and Important
These tasks require immediate attention and contribute significantly to achieving organizational goals. They usually demand the manager’s expertise and decision-making. However, delegation can still be considered if a task aligns with a team member’s skills and capabilities, allowing them to handle urgent and important tasks under the manager’s guidance.
2. Important, but Not Urgent
These tasks are important for long-term goals, but they do not have immediate deadlines. They often require planning, research, and decision-making. Delegating such a task can be an effective strategy to give team members the opportunity to develop new skills and increase their mastery. Moreover, in this case, delegating shows the manager’s trust in the employees, which can increase their motivation and loyalty. Since the task is not urgent, the manager will have enough time to support the employee as needed.
3. Urgent, but Not Important
These tasks are often routine, repetitive, or administrative tasks that can consume a manager’s time. The best strategy to deal with urgent, but not important tasks, is to delegate them. Managers can assign these tasks to team members with the necessary skills or who can easily learn them. By delegating these tasks, managers can prioritize their time and attention to more essential responsibilities, while empowering their team members to contribute effectively.
4. Not Urgent, Not Important
These tasks are often time-wasters, distractions, or low-value activities. They should be eliminated or minimized as much as possible. Delegating such tasks is not recommended, as it leads to irrational use of human resources and a drop in motivation.
Algorithm for delegating a task
To delegate effectively, managers can follow a step-by-step algorithm:
Step 1: Identity tasks suitable for delegation. Consider the importance and urgency of the task, using the Eisenhower Matrix.
Step 2: Select the right team member. Depending on the type of task, choose the most suitable person for the delegated task, considering their skills and growth opportunities.
Step 3: Motivate to do a task successfully. Explain the task’s purpose, expected outcomes, and deadlines. Provide a clear picture of what success looks like.
Step 4: Train and support. Ensure the team member has the necessary skills and knowledge to perform the task successfully. Provide any required training, resources, or support to enable them to complete the task effectively.
Step 5: Grant authority and autonomy. Don’t micromanage. Delegate authority, empowering the team member to make decisions and take ownership of the assigned task.
Step 6: Establish accountability and feedback: Set regular check-ins and milestones to track progress.
Step 7: Review. After completion, review the task’s outcomes with the team member. Identify lessons learned, celebrate successes, and provide feedback for improvement. This step reinforces growth and ensures continuous learning.
Being a good leader is impossible without the ability to delegate proper tasks to the proper people. Delegation not only lightens the manager’s load but also nurtures a culture of trust, growth, and collaboration within the team, ultimately leading to enhanced performance and organizational success.