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  • Paul Hollywell

Art of Delegation

If we are good at getting things done, we may be given a team leadership or management role. We are then faced with the challenge of delegating tasks that we would have previously undertaken ourselves. To become good at delegating we often need to change our beliefs and motivations, and develop new and effective skills in delegation and giving feedback. This will include struggling with giving up control over tasks and trusting others to do the job. Effective delegating requires our conscious effort. However, its major benefit is that it enables us to work more efficiently and offers opportunities for others to grow.

Holding inappropriate beliefs can be self-defeating and undermine our willingness to delegate tasks. Also, they are unhelpful to others. To improve matters, we need to be totally honest about our motivations. Here are some key beliefs that can hinder us, and some questions we should ask ourself:

• Expectation: ‘I should be delegating’ Should I be delegating this particular task?

• Status: ‘I should be seen delegating’ Should I be worrying about my image?

• Competence: ‘I could do it better’ Could I tell/show someone how it’s done and grow their skills?

• Time: ‘I could do it quicker’ Could I allow more time for this task, including time to check?

• Standard: ‘They won’t do it right’ ‘Could I help someone do it to the right standard?

• Workload: ‘They are too busy to do it’ Could I check with someone how busy they actually are?

To become good at delegating, we need to challenge how we delegate tasks by asking ourselves:

Which belief(s) is affecting the way I delegate in a negative way?

What if I didn’t accept that belief(s)? How might that improve my delegating?

What if I changed how I delegate and give feedback? How might the outcome be better?

In planning to delegate a task it’s essential for us to stay involved, at the appropriate level, and with the agreed-upon mix of support and accountability. To avoid micromanaging or leaving someone struggling, we should simply ask the person what do they believe is the right level of support for them.

Typically, there are four levels of support and involvement with the person doing the task:

1 – Instructing: they are told/shown exactly what to do and how, making all expectations clear

2 – Investigating & proposing: they gather information, provide options, and propose their best option(s)

3 – Acting & reporting: they have ownership of the task to take appropriate action and report progress

4 – Handing over: they have ownership of the task to make all decisions with no need to report progress

As your trust in the person doing the task increases, you can move to the next level of delegation.

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