5 keys to being an effective delegator

By Anne Bachrach

A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)


Delegation is one of the many keys to success, but it also is, surprisingly, one of the weakest points for many leaders. Believe it or not, there are a lot of leaders in small business who do not know how to delegate effectively. There can be a number of reasons for having difficulty in the delegation department, most of them related to the inability of the leader to relinquish control. A lot of leaders want to be in control of everything, but they don’t realize that this mentality can zap time and energy that could better be spent moving them to the next level of success.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don't interfere as long as the policy you've decided upon is being carried out.” — Ronald Reagan

If leaders fail to realize this, then they could very well use up all of their valuable time performing tasks that could be done by someone else. Since they are using their time on these things, the leader will usually suffer from an inability to grow and will often feel pressured. They can also feel like nobody understands what is wanted or needed and can begin to feel very alone in a professional sense. Here are the five keys to being an effective delegator:

1. Understand what it means to delegate.

Delegating a job to someone underneath you is not always easy, especially at first, but it is an essential part of growth. You will likely find that you will be unable to move forward with any kind of speed if you do not have what it takes to turn a project over to someone else. Having said this, it is important that you do not simply delegate to delegate. This decision must be made with great care and professionalism.

Delegating to the wrong person could be a catastrophe. However, if you do have the option to hand the project to someone below you who is capable of seeing it through to the end, then you will have the opportunity to truly realize how much power there is in the ability to pass things off to trusted employees or colleagues. This is what delegation is. You are giving something very important to someone whom you trust so that they can finish it for you. It is really that simple. You need to be able to communicate the needs of the project, as well as your need to be informed when certain milestones are reached.

Delegation, if executed correctly, can free you up to do the things that you have to do. Being able to step away from projects that could hold you back is a huge bonus. Just remember, however, that great care must be taken to ensure that you are choosing the right person for the job. Successful entrepreneurs are great delegators.

“Managers help people to see themselves as they are. Leaders help people to see themselves better than they are.” — Jim Rohn
2. Surround yourself with people you can trust.

If you can’t trust anyone beneath you, then you are just going to cause more problems for yourself in the long run by attempting to put them in charge of anything. This is why it is so important to have good, reliable people around you. Delegating relies upon the existence of responsible individuals whom you can believe in and turn to in order to get things done quickly and efficiently.

3. Don’t micromanage.

Staying informed and on top of the situation is one thing, but micromanaging is something else. Never try to micromanage a project that you have given to someone else. This will just interfere with workflow and will also cause your subordinate to feel like they are not trusted or appreciated. If you cannot trust them to do the job, then don’t delegate to them. If you can trust them, then do yourself a favor and let them have the authority do their best for you.

4. Learn to let go if there is nothing to worry about.

Delegating can be difficult for people who are always used to being in control. If you have good people underneath you whom you can trust, then try your best not to worry about the projects that you delegate out. Of course, if you feel that you need an update on the project, then get one, but if you truly believe that your assistance is not needed, then try to relax and just let your subordinates do their job. It can be difficult, but in the long run it will be good for you to get comfortable with delegation as you climb the next ladder of success.

5. Reward subordinates for a job well done.

If you have delegated a job to a subordinate and have returned to find it done and done well, do not hesitate to offer due praise. This will help to build your employee’s confidence and will also strengthen their desire to do a good job for you. Being positive and thankful will encourage them to continue to do their best, which is exactly what you want.

What can you do?

Go through each of these keys and figure out how they might apply to you in your situation. Since you are probably already successful, you might already know more than a thing or two about delegation, but remember that you can never learn too much! More knowledge can lead to better ways of doing things, which will, in turn, lead to increased sales, happier employees and better profits in the long run.