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Effective Delegation for the Do It Yourselfers

Posted on September 14, 2009 by Arianna

Our Supply Chain Management department has been not only growing in size, but also in responsibilities. Our team has literally tripled in size over the last year, but along with that we have more projects and actual deadlines. As scary as that might sound our team is in the process of not only knowing what team work is all about but truly understanding it. I am, like many of you might be, the kind of person that agrees with the statement “If you want something done right, do it yourself”, but there is a point in which one person can’t do all things and delegation is about handing over authority, projects, tasks, etc. This is a scary concept for many because a person can’t know 100% of what will occur once responsibilities are handed over.

Delegating has been one of the hardest things for me to learn and a recurrent process.  There is continual room for improvement in the effectiveness of how, where and who you delegate to.  If there’s anything that I have learned thus far about delegation is that it’s a two-way process. If the individual assigning responsibilities are competent in delegating to the department but the employees receiving the tasks don’t understand what the process should be or what is being asked of them, then the process will break. The same goes if the situation is reversed.  These four suggestions will help you begin to develop your delegation skills and avoid potential errors in the future:
Choose the Right Person
Consider what that person can bring to the task and how the task will impact that person. One of the rewards of delegating is that you allow that person to grow in the experience and perhaps even in the company. In other words, your reason for considering a person should be more than “I like this person a lot – they laugh at my jokes all the time”.

Explain the Task
Always provide the “what” the “when” and if possible the “how”. Assuming that the person will know exactly what to do and what you expect is an unfair expectation. Please note that picking up your dry cleaning, making coffee, and getting you lunch, are not appropriate tasks to be delegating.

Provide Support
It is important to be available for any questions or concerns that the person may have. The fact is that people learn with experience; there will be times when a person might complete a task perfectly with little to no guidance, but the truth of that matter is that everyone needs a little direction and support. Check in with them often and do not discourage questions – the more questions they ask the better they will understand the project.

Give Feedback
Constructive feedback is the most valuable way to improve performance. Note exactly what it was that the person did that blew you away. Once you tell them what they did well, then you can also give them advice on what they can improve upon. has an easy to use SMART planner template which can help you dive right in to designating projects to your team. Once you feel like your expertise in delegating has advanced you can remove tasks on your own “To Do List”; giving you the opportunity to focus on larger projects that can more effectively impact the company. I leave you with this quote by Robert Half “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too”.


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