Delegation is one of the hardest skills for any new manager to learn.

The need to hold on to the jobs we used to do is so strong, it almost always outweighs the clear benefits that delegation brings to a new manager.

Will they do as good a job as I would? What if they completely fail?

These are natural fears.

Although you can delegate responsibility for carrying out a task or achieving a goal, you still retain the accountability for it.

So, what can you do that will help you delegate more effectively, particularly in this day of remote working?

1. Milestone Dates

If people feel they're trusted, they will put a lot of effort and creativity into a project. However, as a leader, we still need to understand how the project is progressing.

Putting milestones in place, with specific meeting dates aligned with the progress you expect to have been made by that time, will help you both to determine progress and resist the need to be continually looking over their shoulder. That way, you are able to deal with any variation from the planned path before it becomes a crisis.

2. Coaching Style

One of the best ways to delegate effectively is to use coaching skills. This means that instead of telling people what to do, you ask more questions, allowing the person to come up with the answers themselves. This encourages creative thought and builds confidence in them owning the project.

If they ask you for advice, ask them first what they think. This will help you to resist the huge temptation to take over the project and helps establish trust and credibility with the other preson, as they demonstrate they know what to do with the project.

3. Contract With Them

The best way to support is to 'contract' upfront, establishing ground rules and norms when they need to make enquiries or ask for further resources. The support should help them develop their skills and get the project completed, not actually take it over from them. Allow them to ask for whatever assistance they need and discuss how this will improve efficiency and effectiveness.

4. Praise Successes

It’s always said that the best way to motivate someone is to demonstrate how valuable they are. Giving praise for a job well done is free and very effective. Don’t overdo it, or it will become patronising. Remember Encorage the Heart from the Leadership Challenge and make the recognition personal and they will feel the pride in having accomplished a goal that will drive them forward.

If something goes wrong (time-delays, quality problems, etc) resist the temptation to jump and take over. Ask what you personally can learn from them not achieving the goal. Did you miss something out at the beginning? Was your checking-in process not robust enough? Was the task too stretching?

By recognising what you need to do to rectify any shortcomings, you will ensure the same mistakes are not carried forward to the next project.

Call to Action

Delegating successfully is not only a way to reduce stress; it’s also a survival strategy. If you choke your staff with micromanagement minutiae, you miss out on the great ideas that will move your company forward and frustrate the best resource your company has – your people.

What are you doing at this time to delegate responsibility to your team?

Let us know what is working for you, specifically in this age of remote working and distributed teams.