How to Delegate Effectively

Many small-business owners believe they can save time by telling their employees both what to do and how to do it. After all, in most cases they initially had to do all of the jobs now held by their employees, so it makes sense to save them the effort of trying to figure things out for themselves…right?

Wrong. Delegation is a better approach, because it launches employees into effective, independent action and saves time and resources in the long run. Each situation and assignment is unique, but there are three simple yet powerful steps that you can take to delegate more effectively:

1. Understand whether you are making a request or issuing a command. A request allows the person to say, ‘No, thank you,’ whereas a command is not optional.

2. Be sure to make your request or command clear by including the following points:

The task you want done. The reason it needs to be done. When it needs to be done. What resources (people, dollars, technology) you are making available for its completion. What you expect the final product to look like. How you will make yourself available to answer any questions. An agreement on a midpoint check-in.

Faulty assumptions in any of these areas can result in problems and delays.

3. Don’t skip your midpoint check-in. If, at that point, you find the person or team way off base, you may be tempted to micro manage the remainder of the project or task. Don’t. Instead, reassess whether you made a crystal clear request and whether your people are capable and motivated. If you need to clarify your task then do so. If your people are not capable and motivated, then reassign the task.

Delegating effectively helps you make the most of your resources, allows for greater overall productivity, and launches your employees into effective, independent action.

David Peck Founder Leadership Unleashed San Francisco, Calif.