Studies of corporate work practices consistently show that delegating more responsibility for decision making increases productivity, morale, and commitment, all of which impact company culture.
Companies whose executives effectively delegate authority grow faster, generate more revenue, and create more jobs.
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate,” says John C. Maxwell, author of Developing the Leaders Around You.
Yet, company leaders often struggle with knowing what just what to delegate and how to do it effectively. In some cases, they may not have had role models that showed them how to delegate successfully. Other may worry that delegating may make them look like shirkers or slackers.
Billionaire CEO Eli Broad agrees: “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.”
Here then are six practices of leaders who delegate successfully:
1. Choose the right person
Don’t start by asking who can do it. It’s better to ask: Who needs to develop these skills? Who has capacity? Who has shown interest? Who is ready for a challenge? Who would see this as a reward? Successful delegators also explain why they chose the person to take on the task.
2. Set clear guidelines
Clearly outline what the person is responsible for and how much autonomy they have. The person you choose will likely want to define the task, choose their own team, techniques, and deadline. Successful delegators let them know exactly where they have autonomy and when they need guidance from management.
That being said, it’s important for delegators to set aside their attachment to how things have been done in the past, so that they can invite, recognise, and reward novel approaches that work.
3. Detail the required results
This includes clearly outlining their expectations about the outcome (“what it is”), how the task fits into the bigger picture (“why we’re doing it”), and criteria for measuring success (“what it should look like when done well”).
4. Provide adequate resources
They provide adequate training, money, supplies, time, space, adjusted priorities, and personnel to make sure their team has what they need to do the job.
5. Set checkpoints
Effective delegators establish milestones for feedback so that they neither micromanage nor under-lead. They know when to cheerlead, coach, step in, step back, adjust expectations, make themselves available, and celebrate successes.
6. Show tolerance
Sometimes things just go wrong. It’s important not to view these events as proof that they shouldn’t have delegated in the first place. Balanced leaders tolerate risks and mistakes, knowing that they too have made mistakes. Moreover, mistakes can provide excellent learning opportunities.
Wise leaders create an environment where delegation isn’t just expected—it’s embedded in the culture.
Effective company leaders know the importance of delegating responsibility. They do this by selecting the right people, setting clear guidelines and goals, providing adequate resources, setting check points, and allowing for people to learn from their mistakes.