One Development Idea from Delegating Work for Small Team Leaders

The goal of Leadabytes is to identify and curate three development ideas from each book reviewed on this site and turn them into learning and development resources for small team leaders (those who manage teams of between 2 to 10 people).

The three development ideas identified from Delegating Work are:

  1. How to prepare for delegation.
  2. How delegate a task.
  3. How to monitor a delegated task.

Following is a learning point summary of The first development idea, how to prepare for delegation.

 How to prepare for delegation

Delegation requires careful preparation otherwise it won’t go well. So before you delegate there are certain steps you should take to ensure your delegation is succesful. Before you delegate you first need to answer a key question which is, why do you want to delegate? In other words, what is the purpose of your delegation?

This is important because it enables you to assess whether your delegation was successful or not after the task has been completed. Now that you know why you want to delegate, the next step is to decide what you want to delegate. This can be a tricky decision, so let’s start with what you shouldn’t delegate. The tasks you should not delegate are:

  • those that involve planning, directing and motivating your team,
  • evaluating employee performance,
  • handling complex customer negotiations,
  • performing tasks that require your specific technical skills,
  • recruiting and letting go of team members, and
  • developing the careers of members of your team.

You should also not delegate a task just because you don’t like doing it or you don’t want to do it.

Tasks you can delegate include those that can be better done by other people because they have the required skills and knowledge, those that can challenge, develop and motivate team members and tasks that can help people develop new skills and talent.

Now that we are sure about what to delegate and what you shouldn’t delegate, the next step is to identify the skills required for the task to be delegated. This step is really important because you don’t want to delegate the task to someone who is unable to do it if they don’t have the right skills.

The first thing to do is to analyse the task so you are clear about what skills and knowledge are necessary to complete it and then you can analyse the skills needed by answering these questions:

  • What thinking skills are required for the task (for example problem solving, planning, decision making)?
  • What activities must be performed to complete the task?
  • What systems and equipment are needed for the task?
  • What interpersonal skills are needed (will the task require communicating and engaging with various stakeholders)?A

When you’ve got a good idea of what is needed to complete the task through answering those questions, it’s time to match the right person to the task. Compare what is required to complete the task as you identified previously to the characteristics of your team members. Which of them best meet the criteria? When you are trying to match people to the task, consider these factors:

  • Can this task help meet a team members development needs and goals?
  • Be aware of your own strengths and that of your team so you are clear about what you and your team members can do well and can’t do well.
  • Who is most available to do the task?
  • How much tasks have you previously delegated to people? Tasks should be delegated fairly among people.
  • How much assistance will the person need to complete the task? If too much assistance is required, that person may not be the most appropriate team member to do the task.
  • How long has the person been in the job? Don’t give newer staff too much tasks till they are confident in their roles.
  • Think of the possibility of dividing the task amongst two or more team members to utilise diverse skills.

By taking these steps you should have identified an appropriate team member (or team members) to delegate the task to.

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