How to More Effectively Delegate to Your Team

Many business leaders understand the importance of delegation. But delegation isn’t always easy. Some contend it’s in the psychological makeup of business leaders to insist on doing (or trying to do) everything themselves - or at least insist on overseeing how others get things done.

Here at Baillie, we are constantly reminding ourselves on the importance and value of proper delegation. We work hard to uncover best practices in this area (see below), and constantly monitor our efforts in this area so we don’t fall back on outmoded and ineffective leadership techniques.

If this is something that is important to you and the corporate culture you want to build with your key leaders perhaps these ideas will be helpful.

matt v tour1. Admit you’re unable to do everything yourself. Effective delegation starts by acknowledging no single individual can complete or oversee all the tasks involved in running a successful business. This doesn’t have anything to do with personal shortcomings. Rather, it’s facing the simple truth that your company will suffer if you (or another high-level executive) lacks the ability to delegate wisely.

2. Hire the best people for the job. Forbes contributor Brian Scudamore puts it bluntly: “Here’s a brutal truth: you are not the smartest person at your company. Or at least, you shouldn’t be.”

If you acknowledge this, the next logical step involves going out and finding those individuals who are better than you in various operational areas. For us that means everything from green hardwood lumber buying and kiln drying schedules to species specific marketing campaigns and human resources. “For everything you do, there will always be someone out there who can do it better,” Scudamore adds. “Imagine the success of your business if you could get those people in your corner and develop them into experts in their field.”

3. When delegating responsibilities, make sure people understand your expectations. It’s not enough to simply tell an employee, “Here, you go and take care of this task.” For delegation to succeed, it’s necessary to outline and communicate your expectations. What constitutes a job “well done”? When is the expected deadline? What should the final results look like? If necessary, put your expectations in writing, so there’s less room for confusion and disappointment when the task is completed.

4. Give employees the resources to get the job done. Taking the first step to delegate is good, but it only works if employees have access to the tools and resources needed to get a job done. In some cases, this could entail extending authority to an individual to request key resources that might not fall under his or her area of command. Make sure all employees and departments involved understand this individual has been authorized to complete a task at your request, making it more likely the final result will be to your satisfaction.

5. Acknowledge the positive outcome of delegation. Assuming you’ve hired smart people and take steps to delegate key tasks to them, don’t let the process come to an end without a public acknowledgement of their efforts. In order to encourage further voluntary participation, thank the individual involved and let others in the company know how the process unfolded and the importance of employees stepping up when called upon to do so. Empowering individuals to assume greater responsibility is also a very useful retention tool.

Most importantly, be clear (both to yourself and everyone else involved) that you understand you can’t do everything yourself and that you want employees to be comfortable assuming key tasks within the organization. This will lead to greater efficiency and productivity at all levels of your business.

What other best practices do you have pertaining to delegation? Please share them with us!

Tony Cimorelli
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