Learning to delegate tasks successfully: 7 secret tips

"If I do it myself, it will go faster and be better" - Surely someone in a leading position has thought this before and therefore did not hand over a task. Understandably so. After all, managers are usually in their position because they can perform certain tasks particularly well and quickly. Nevertheless, delegating tasks is one of the most important instruments that people in top management should master. As such, learning to delegate tasks as an executive is the focus of this article.

In this article you will learn more about delegating tasks: First it will be discussed why delegating is difficult for many executives. Secondly the positive aspects of delegation will be shown. Thirdly and lastly 7 practical tips will be given in order to learn or improve delegating.

Why delegating tasks is difficult for many executives

Delegating tasks can often be challenging for many executives due to various reasons. One of the big reasons is a lack of trust in their team members. Executives may worry that delegated tasks will fail to achieve their high standards or that their team members lack the necessary skills. Another reason is a fear of losing control. Executives may feel that by delegating tasks, they are losing their power or autonomy. Additionally, some individuals may be perfectionists and struggle with letting go of tasks, fearing such tasks will lack the precision that they desire. Finally, some executives may be unable to communicate effectively, making it hard to convey expectations and goals to team members.

We have summarized below the main reasons executives find it difficult to delegate tasks:

  • Managers think that in the time it takes them to explain the task to employees, they could have just done it themselves.
  • Managers think that they can do the task better than the employees and that the "poorer quality" could possibly fall back on them.
  • Managers fear losing track of tasks that need to be done if they "hand them off."
  • Managers worry that they will lose control and power if the tasks that actually only they do are now performed by employees.
  • Managers worry that delegating tasks will make them dependent or completely redundant. In the worst case, they fear they will create a competitor.
  • Leaders worry that if they don't do tasks themselves, they will be seen as less competent.
  • Managers think that delegating could damage their reputation. Employees may get the impression that only unpleasant or overwhelming tasks are given to them.
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Why it is important and useful to delegate tasks

The thoughts and concerns that managers have about delegating work are understandable. However, it must be said: they are all just assumptions - you can't know, for example, whether the results would actually be worse than if you performed the task yourself. That need not be the case. It's also doubtful that others will see you as less competent because of this. In fact, the opposite may be true: They may just then think of you as a person of greatness, confidence, and courage.

Of course, it depends on the task in question. In general, however, it can be said that delegating tasks has numerous advantages for both professionals and managers.

Learning to delegate tasks - A list of the most important delegation tasks

  • Managers have more time for the really important things, such as specific leadership tasks, when they hand over day-to-day business tasks to employees.
  • If managers concentrate and focus their energies on fewer, but more important tasks, then it can be expected that the quality of their results will increase.
  • If tasks are completed by employees who are specialized in the specific task, then it is also to be expected that the results will improve.
  • Managers feel less overloaded and stressed when they reduce their "mountain" of tasks.
  • Delegating contributes to employee retention. When tasks that are not merely mindless routine tasks are delegated to employees, managers show appreciation and trust towards them. This motivates employees to do their best.
  • Managers encourage their employees in a productive way, as they can develop their skills and competencies through newly assigned tasks.
  • If managers give their employees freedom in working out tasks, they increase their creativity and self-confidence. This makes a significant contribution to their satisfaction and self-fulfillment in the company.
With the right delegation, effectiveness, efficiency, motivation and satisfaction ultimately increase throughout the company. 

Conclusion: Delegating tasks is a win-win situation. Both managers and employees benefit in many ways. Ultimately, effectiveness, efficiency, motivation and satisfaction increase throughout the company. 

How to delegate successfully - 7 tips

In order for the many potential benefits of delegating to actually materialize, it must be "approached" correctly. Because there are definitely some aspects that managers need to consider in order for delegating to succeed. In executive coaching sessions, tips and instructions are suggested for learning how to delegate properly. We will show you 7 of these tips here.

1. Find the right employee

Carefully consider which person is the best person for the delegated task. To do this, you should consider the employee's skills, strengths and weaknesses, knowledge and interests. After all, a person who shows a talent for a certain task and/or more interest in it, will work with greater motivation and produce better results. However, you should also make sure that the selected person has the appropriate resources. After all, if someone is already overloaded with work, they should not be asked to do even more.

2. Delegate at the right time

Avoid giving employees a task to do just before the end of the working day. This creates frustration and demotivation. It is better to hand over a task first thing in the morning, at the start of work. This gives employees enough time to organize and structure their day.

3. Communicate the task correctly

Take enough time to brief the employee in detail. Simply "pushing" a task across through a short email or note is no way to delegate. Instead, you should give a clear work order, clarify any critical issues, and break down complex tasks into individual steps if necessary. Also remember to explain the goal and importance of the task to the person. Especially if it is a subtask or a preparatory activity. Otherwise, they will lack the background needed to achieve the best results.

4. Grant freedom in execution 

When you delegate a task, remember that you are ultimately delegating a goal or an expected outcome. The way the delegated person chooses to reach it is less important. Because everyone works differently and if you specify each sub-step, then you are not delegating, you are prescribing. If instead employees have freedom in the execution of the task, then they have the chance to think for themselves and work creatively.

5. Respond to queries 

Give your employees the feeling that they can come to you with questions and uncertainties at any time. This is important in the process of delegation, as it signals to your employees that you are still involved in the task and that you are interested in the results. This prevents employees from thinking that you are just "pushing" the task away from them.

6. Set a deadline

Set a deadline for the delegated task. This way, they can freely divide their working time and at the same time you have the certainty that the task will be finished on time. However, it can be useful to plan a time buffer in case the employee needs longer than expected.

7. Give feedback and show appreciation

When the delegated task has been completed, it is important that you give the employee honest and constructive feedback. If a good result has been achieved, then it is also important to highlight and praise this. It can also be noted where there is still room for improvement next time.

These 7 recommendations and more are taught in our business coaching sessions at Sparrks and elaborated into a comprehensive strategy. Our experienced executive coaches will help you internalize them and put them into action. If you want to learn more about this, book a free demo call, where we will be happy to advise you further!

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FAQ: Learning to delegate

Why do some managers fear or avoid delegation?

Some reasons why some managers avoid or fear delegation include: a loss of feeling in control, lack of trust in employee's commitment to quality, the belief that the employees will do a poorer job, fear of subordinates misusing the opportunity, the perception that it takes less time to do the work than it takes to delegate it, and fear of giving employees a chance at outperforming the manager.

What should a manager never delegate?

A manager should never delegate company culture or core values, leading change, final decisions on hiring and layoffs, performance monitoring, and critical business moments.

Can a manager delegate responsibility?

When delegating tasks, a manager also hands over the responsibility over those tasks but cannot give up the accountability over outcomes.