How to delegate successfully

As a working mum you’re aware that you can’t do everything (and stay sane). To achieve a good work-life balance you need to know when to delegate tasks and responsibilities to others. And exactly the same philosophy applies when you are a manager.

To get the most out of yourself and your team, you need to be clear about what you can and can’t achieve, and the best use of your time. And have the confidence in those around you to delegate tasks when you need to.

Delegate, don’t dump

When we say ‘delegate’ we don’t mean ‘dump all the worst tasks onto someone else’! Good delegation is about identifying the right person for a task to ensure that you, and the rest of your team, are working to your best ability. By responsibly delegating you will have the time and mental capacity to be a better manager.

Some quick rules of good delegation

  • Ignore your ego – delegating the right jobs for the best people sometimes means giving up jobs you enjoy, or risk someone else doing them better. Remember though, if your team as a whole performs well this reflects positively on you as a manager.
  • Don’t wait for people to volunteer – be proactive and approach the right person for a job if you need to delegate.
  • Delegate responsibility not just tasks – don’t just ask someone to complete tasks for you. Explain the objective of a job and ask them to help you achieve it. Trusting people with responsibility helps them to grow and motivates and empowers them to do a better job.
  • Check people have the right resources – if you delegate a job to someone, check that they have the ability and access to the right resources to successfully complete it.
  • Review progress at agreed times – while it’s good to keep a discreet eye on delegated jobs so you can step in if someone is really struggling, you need to let people feel that they have responsibility for the task. So agree times to review progress and resist the temptation to meddle in the meantime.
  • Be encouraging – motivate and build confidence for praising good work, and acknowledge the new skills and experience they have learned.
  • Be appreciative and give recognition – let the person who helped you know how much you appreciate their efforts, and ensure that they share in the rewards and praise for a job well done. 

Deciding which tasks to delegate

To get the most benefit out of delegation, you need to be clear about what kind of tasks to delegate:

  • Necessary routine tasks that need to be performed every week or month.
  • Interesting tasks that will motivate and stretch your team members and show that you’re a fair manager.
  • Tasks that a member of your team can do better than you because they have the right skills and experience.
  • Tasks that you think a member of your team will enjoy more than you.
  • Whole tasks that can give people a sense of satisfaction on seeing through from the start to the end.
  • Tasks that will take up too much of your time, and are more cost-effective if completed by a member of your team.
  • Tasks that your team can do more quickly than you.
  • Tasks which will contribute to the development of your team, and give them chance to extend their skills.