We’ve all fallen victim to thinking we’re superheroes and that our never-ending to-do list is no match for our unparalleled productivity levels. Unfortunately, that’s often very much not the case, and if we adopt that mentality for too long, we’ll be overwhelmed, overworked, and burned out.

Remember, even our favorite superheroes need a little help. Just like how Batman needs Robin or how Captain America needs Falcon. We could all use a little help sometimes, and for us to receive the help we need, we need to know how to delegate tasks and projects effectively to colleagues and teammates. 

Why is it important to delegate? 

There’s only so much time in a workday, no matter how productive you are or how great you are at staying on task. Sometimes there will be items on the to-do list that just don’t get done — and that’s okay!

No matter your role, delegating tasks to other members of your team that you can count on is an important skill to master. Not only does doing so help to empower your team and build trust with one another, but it can also grow personal development as others are given new tasks to accomplish. It can also instill advanced knowledge as colleagues are given new responsibilities where they can develop their skillset. 

Why people struggle to delegate 

Delegating is easier said than done. 

It’s common to call into the myth that delegating work is just passing or handing off work to someone else that we may not necessarily want to do. However, without delegation, managers may waste their time and the company’s resources, time, and budget. Individuals in roles of all shapes and sizes should remember delegation is the sign of a strong leader, not of weakness or laziness.

Additionally, one may feel like they don’t want to delegate the task because they can do it “better” or “faster”. A good leader should keep an eye out for these biased ways of thinking and trust that your team is made up of strong individuals who can get the job done, too.

When is it time to delegate?

How long is your to-do list? Additionally, how high is your stress level? 

Knowing when it’s time to delegate is crucial, and it can lead to a win-win for everyone involved. To see when the time is right, consider the following questions:

  • Does someone else have the information and the tools to complete this task? 
  • Does the task or assignment provide an opportunity for a colleague to grow or develop a new skill?
  • Do I have time and the necessary resources to delegate responsibilities effectively?
  • Is the task critical to the long-term success of the organization?
  • Does the deadline give members of your team the necessary time to complete the delegated work?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you’ll know if you should make time for the assignment or if you can choose the right person on your team to delegate the responsibilities to.

8 tips for delegating effectively 

If you’ve determined that now is the time to delegate tasks to other members of your team, follow these eight tips to ensure you’re doing so effectively.

1 Leave your ego at the door

First things first, if you’re going to delegate a task, you have to leave your ego out of it. Regardless of how much you’d like to do the task yourself, or if you think you’ll do a better job than anyone else, that’s the kind of thinking that makes delegating seem impossible.

Don’t just take it from me, when we took to Twitter to get expert advice, Dave McKeown shared, “In my experience, it’s way less about the time needed to do it and much more about the delegator’s ego not wanting to let go!”. Similarly, Zain Khan added, “The hardest thing for young managers is to hand over the reins and trust the report. So much of your self-esteem is tied to doing IC work that you just can’t let go of the work.”

At the end of the day, the best managers know how to remove their own ego when finding the right person for the job.

2 Play to your employees’ strengths and goals

When you know your employees or direct reports, you have a better understanding of their hard and soft skills, as well as their individual strengths and goals. Having this knowledge allows managers to delegate tasks and projects that align with their goals. 

It’s crucial that you pass the figurative torch and choose the right person for the task based on their skills, willingness to learn, and their own availability. 

3 Define clear expectations

Once you’ve chosen the person you’ll be delegating to, take the time to set clear expectations, especially if it’s a type of task they may not have much experience with. Ensure they know the project’s desired outcome, why this project is important to the department or organization, and when it’s due.

Stress that the individual can come to you for questions, so they don’t feel like you’re leaving them entirely in the dark. 

Pro tip

Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to document your expectations of a project so you and your team can look back on any notes and key decisions made.

4 Come up with a clear process

Once expectations are set, help them plan how to carry out the task. Whether this looks like a step-by-step description of the project being delegated or a checklist to complete with action items, they should feel supported but never micromanaged. You can also establish milestones they should cross off before the final assignment is due. 

You’ll want to do your best to give the individual everything they need to succeed in the completion of the delegated task. 

5 Schedule training time

As a way to support your colleague, schedule training time to discuss the task. This provides the person you delegated the task to with the time to get the specific training needed, while also learning more about the resources or authority required to complete the project.

As you conduct training and dive deeper into the task at hand, you may be able to point them to other people throughout the organization who they can go to with questions or additional resources. Once training is complete, they shouldn’t feel like they’ve been set up to complete an impossible task or that they don’t have the tools to achieve the desired outcome. 

6 Provide immediate feedback

In order to avoid micromanaging as you delegate, establish a clear communication channel where you provide immediate feedback. This feedback should be both positive and let the individual know what is going well and constructive to share ways to improve.

Depending on the employee, they may need to see what they’re doing well and how they can improve to grow and develop new skills. This can also help you as their manager keep track of the progress.

7 Encourage questions and suggestions

Once you’ve given feedback on how the overall task is going, check in with your employee to see if they need any additional support or clarification on any area of the project. Make it known that you trust them to do the work but also want to create time for them to ask questions or suggest a new way about completing the assignment. 

8 Show your appreciation

Nothing is worse than a member of your team who doesn’t feel appreciated — especially after they successfully complete a delegated assignment. When a colleague has completed the task, show your genuine appreciation and point out all of the things they did right. This will inspire confidence in them if there’s another task you’ll be delegating to them in the future. You can also show your appreciation by letting everyone else on the team know how great of a job this individual did on the task.

Although this sounds relatively simple, it’s crucial that this last tip isn’t forgotten. 

The benefits of delegating effectively 

When done correctly, there are many benefits of delegating effectively. Some of these benefits include:

  • Gives managers the time and ability to focus on higher-level tasks that can lead to greater success within the organization.
  • Provides others the ability to learn and develop new skills they would have otherwise missed out on.
  • Creates trust between managers and their direct reports while also improving communication through different channels.
  • Can improve efficiency, productivity, and time management throughout the team.
  • Ensures that the right people are performing the tasks that are best suited to their skills and strengths. 
  • Allows for more projects and tasks to be completed on time.
  • Develops a positive corporate culture by boosting team morale, promoting enthusiasm, and striving for increased innovation.

Are you up to the task?

All good managers and team leaders need to know what tasks to take on and which to delegate to employees and colleagues. No matter how big or small the job may be, it’s essential to set one’s ego aside, consider your team’s skills, and determine which to delegate and which to keep on your to-do list.

Remember — no one can do it all, even Supermanagers