by Sam Warner, Toastmasters International

The art of delegation is an essential skill for any leader to develop. There is always a danger of trying to do too much yourself so here are some tips to help you enhance your delegating:

Understanding your team. If you are new to the role of leader or you have a new team don’t start making changes immediately.  Use the first three months to get to know the team, understand their ways of working, preferred styles of communication etc.  Really get to grips with their deliverables, and understand their touchpoints with other teams, their concerns and challenges.  This will pay off massively in the long run.

Sharing goals. Be really clear about your vision and mission and share it with your team.  If they understand the direction the team is going in, and the objectives that need to be achieved they will start to think about how they can contribute.

Giving feedback. If you can’t give useful and usable feedback it will become very challenging for you to delegate a second time.  You need to give specific examples of where things went well or didn’t go so well and why. Help them articulate how they might mitigate anything that didn’t go well in the future, so that the issues melt away. Reward them, meaningfully, for their efforts. Deliver feedback that supports their career goals and identifies training and development opportunities.

Requesting help.  If employees feel respected they will offer to help you to achieve your objectives and goals.  You need to be clear about what’s in it for them and that you’ll rewards effort and will help them succeed.  If you team can see your vulnerable side, where you make mistakes and don’t have all the answers, they will know that you value consulting with them and leveraging their knowledge and experience when solving problems.

Building skills. With tasks needing a specific skill, there may be a chance to upskill a junior team member. By ensuring that you have no silos delegating tasks across the team will upskill them and ensure that no-one, when they return from holiday etc., faces a pile of work, as it’s been absorbed by the team.

It’s really important to support them, advise them and check in with them (without micromanaging them) when completing new tasks.  Let them know you’re there to answer questions and provide support as needed.

Improving problem solving.  If you’re genuinely approachable and easy to work with you can build a culture of problem solving.  Rather than bringing you problems to solve – ask your team to bring you solutions and ideas instead.  They’ll feel empowered to figure out how to fix things before approaching you for approval to go ahead.

Explaining why before how.  People need to understand why a task has to be done to understand the value they are delivering and how it fits into the bigger picture. When delivering instructions for a task be specific about the desired end result. Clearly outline accountabilities, responsibilities and authority. Be clear on touch points/milestones and deadlines and get them diarised. Organise a review once the work has ended so you can give feedback.

Improving self-awareness. Understanding your impact on others will greatly enhance your ability to delegate effectively and your listening skills. Seek to understand first, then question.  Listening is the most useful skill you can cultivate.  It validates the person speaking and makes them feel heard.  Ask for feedback from your team and let them see you’re paying attention and adapting.

Using the tips above will enhance your ability to influence and persuade. The team will achieve more and develop their skills demonstrating the benefits of your improved delegation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Warner is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org