9 Proven Strategies for Managers
to Delegate Tasks Effectively
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” - Michael Jordan
Whether you’re a world-class athlete, a tenured employee, or a newly promoted manager who handles affiliate marketing lead generation, task delegation is an important part of developing a winning support unit built on trust, respect, and teamwork.
Understanding how to manage your authority over a team and utilize their personal strengths is key for any manager, setting the groundwork for establishing employee bonds, promoting responsibility, and streamlining productivity.
Are you new to managerial responsibility or looking to freshen up your approach to delegation? Here are some proven strategies we love and to make you a great team communicator.
Why delegation is important in business
Delegation is the act of redirecting tasks and other initiatives to team members across your business.
Work may be delegated to distribute responsibility evenly, upskill team members, or simply because it’s more relevant to their sector, skill set, and priorities.
Business leaders want to see task delegation from their managers for two main reasons:
- It maximizes personal productivity
- It encourages teams and shows they’re trusted with important work
Organizations should always prioritize the team over the individual, and this attitude needs to come from all staff members in positions of power. Great delegation doesn’t just improve productivity. It prevents burnout and is becoming ever more important to master in an increasingly remote professional world.
What’s scary about delegation?
Delegation affects different teams in different ways. Staff may be confused as to why their responsibilities are changing on the fly while managers might be hampering their ability to delegate through one of, or a combination of, the following:
- They’re afraid of giving up pieces of their role
- They don’t want to burden their team with more tasks
- They don’t want to appear incompetent
- They don’t trust their team
Discussing them with your team is an important part of establishing not only a close-knit working unit but a culture that accepts ad-hoc delegation and thrives on teamwork.
Establishing a great working culture is essential as a manager, especially as remote working environments make cultivating a remote culture difficult and offer less room to naturally address concerns, fears, and failings of colleagues healthily.
When should you delegate?
Delegation isn’t about handing off tasks you don’t enjoy to your juniors.
A great way to determine the right tasks to delegate is to segment them. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Is this work a priority?
- Would this repetitive task be better served as a training exercise?
- How can I make this recurring work more manageable?
- Is there enough time to effectively delegate this task?
- Do I have the time to review this once it’s completed?
Delegation should not be a last-minute decision to save your own skin. Don’t risk a loss of morale by putting impossible tasks on the shoulders of your team. Be smart and sensitive about when you delegate.
9 Proven delegation strategies for managers
Let’s take a look at some proven delegation strategies managers should look to implement.
Understand your team (and work alongside them)
If you don’t understand your team’s individual strengths, weaknesses, and expertise, it’s impossible to know who can realistically complete the task thoroughly and efficiently without constant supervision. This is before you consider their workload!
A fulfilling exercise might be to discuss these tasks as a team. Ask everyone what they feel comfortable covering, suggest tasks to them, and take the time to conduct quick training sessions running through the responsibilities.
Managing a team is a pretty fruitless exercise if you’re not taking everyone’s opinion on board, especially when it comes to managing small business VoIP providers where working relationships are dynamic, and reliability is crucial. Nobody thrives when a sudden, demanding email lands in their inbox.
Analyze your team’s strengths
If you’re not choosing the right person for the job, task delegation is a non-starter.
Without a clear picture of where each team member excels and struggles, plus their experience with similar tasks, you’re unlikely to make delegation the efficient exercise it should be.
Compile a list of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to the tasks you’re looking to delegate. How do they manage time constraints? Are they familiar with the software required? Is customer service their strength? With this information in mind, assign relevant tasks or make them available to appropriate employees.
Explain your thought process
It's just as important to explain why you’re delegating as it is to explain exactly what you’re delegating.
While this might seem like an awful way to make delegation swift and manageable, much like conducting a team review, it offers great insight into things your team members may never admit about their limitations and skills. Meanwhile, it makes sure they know exactly what’s expected of them.
Everyone has witnessed a team member struggle with a task that’s beyond their skill level or has been poorly explained. Delegating tasks with detailed briefs or hosting staff meetings through teleconferences (either one on one or in your morning stand up) ensures there’s no confusion and offers a comfortable environment to ask questions.
Keep a record of your delegation
As a manager of a large team, it can be difficult to grasp what everyone’s working on throughout the day, especially if you’re a remote business in qa companies or also managing freelancers.
To make things easier for yourself when it comes to delegating or reviewing project progress, keep a thorough record of who you delegated the task to and how they dealt with it. Much like offering tasks to your team, this is an essential insight into how individuals around you work and where there might be pain points. Consider listing:
- Who completed the task
- How quickly they completed it
- How much editing/reviewing was required
- How other parties (clients, customers, and other teams) reacted
Provide thorough instructions
Clear and concise instructions are one of the pillars of great management.
Studies have shown teams across the world prefer starting the working day with a list of tasks, making them feel more comfortable, organized, and in control of their workload.
With that in mind, delegation should always be accompanied by thorough instructions that outline everything from opening key programs to standard formatting.
This isn’t about enforcing a way of doing something on your team. As we’ll get onto, delegation demands trust. Instructions should be treated as a guideline to make staff more comfortable taking on the task rather than a rigid list of rules that must be followed.
Ensure colleagues have the necessary equipment, resources, and training
Much like instructions, employees will struggle without the inclusion of relevant equipment, resources, and training as part of your delegation.
Yes, training can take time and feel counterproductive when you’re delegating to free up your workload especially in an audio and video conference because you’re not with your team, but this is an investment in the skills of your team and helps communicate the right way to do the task.
Make sure they’re logged into tools, offered reading resources if this is the first time they’ve covered a task like this, and encouraged to make mistakes as part of the learning process. What is workforce management if not giving your employees all the tools to succeed and letting them find their own way to be successful?
It’s all well and good handing out training resources and flashy new tech, but if the team member you’re delegating tasks to doesn’t have the respect of their peers or the authority to manage a project, it’ll be a non-starter.
The freedom to apply independent thinking to a task and experience a sense of responsibility is a great way to develop new talent and help employees embrace their delegated tasks.
Make sure everyone in the team (and wider business) is aware of who is now responsible for a task and how they can cooperate.
Trust your team and their skill sets
As an experienced manager, it can be hard to let go of tasks you’ve mastered.
However, growth in a managerial role requires handing off previously essential responsibilities to the next generation.
Delegation is pointless without trust. Micromanaging or expecting the task to be done in a certain way is bad delegation. Learn to let go and look at the positives, rather than feeling you’re losing a piece of what made the role yours.
Provide thorough feedback (and thanks!)
When you delegate a task for the first time, make sure you close off the process with thorough feedback.
Considered feedback is essential for growth. It might be time-consuming, but it offers a roadmap for people to follow the next time they’re faced with a similar task.
And make sure you’re thanking your team! Delegation can make someone feel taken advantage of, so show your appreciation!
Final thoughts on self-improvement as a manager
Managers should always be looking towards self-improvement. Here’s how you can make yourself into a better leader while improving your delegation skills:
- Exploring/upskilling role-adjacent skills: proving yourself as a versatile leader willing to learn new skills encourages your team to embrace new tasks. Learn about the importance of company finances and budget management, make an effort to understand the changing conversation around mental health, and explore new office skill training innovations.
- Experimenting with new ways of communication: if we’ve learned anything from remote working, it’s that everyone has their own communication preferences. Some people don’t mind random requests through PM, many ignore internal emails, while others want everything logged through a project management tool. Find what works for your team.
- Keeping up with new management tools: subscribe to industry blogs and newsletters to keep up with the latest releases that could simplify your workload or delegation process.
If it never occurred to you that delegation might be this complicated or sensitive of an issue, don’t be put off. Through small tweaks, such as the strategies discussed, delegation breeds collectivity while easing a manager’s personal workload.
About the author
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.