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All tasks are not created equal. And not every task is suitable for delegation. So, as a team leader, it’s important for you to identify what tasks are suitable for delegation – and which should only be done by the leader.
Of course, there are many good reasons to delegate tasks. Delegation leaves the leader with time to actually lead and support the team. It helps to balance the overall workload. It can also provide development opportunities for team members. And it can help to cover unexpected demands.
So which tasks should you, as the team lead, delegate to others? You can follow a number of guidelines to help you decide.
Consider delegating any task that doesn't have to be undertaken by you, the leader. Actively identify which aspects of your work must be done by you. These would include your actual leadership tasks, such as distributing work, monitoring, supporting, and reporting on performance, ambassadorial tasks representing the team, and dealing with your own manager. Confidential issues are also part of this. So what should you delegate? Well, consider delegating everything else!
Ensure that tasks you delegate are defined clearly enough so that you can specify exactly what is needed and how it is to be delivered. Exceptions to this may be unclear tasks where the delegation is aimed at clarification. In these cases, specifying how you will know it has been achieved is important. This prevents possible confusion and delays due to delegating tasks that you are unable to explain or define clearly.
Third, delegate tasks that will not disrupt or derail the work of the team and its members. It is not unusual for unexpected or even inappropriate demands to arrive, especially in fast-moving or growing organizations. If delegating all or part of them would threaten to disrupt the team, other means for dealing with them or building them into work plans may be more appropriate.
There once was a Regional Director who was informed on the morning of a two-day team development retreat that he was going to have to merge his own regional management team with a neighboring one. This task was to be completed in three months. He decided to share that information with his team straight away, and to outline his first thoughts.
He explained that merging two teams each with eleven and twelve members was not feasible. Therefore, in three months’ time, some of the people in the room would not be in their current jobs. He proposed that for some, that change could be of great benefit, and for others it might be an important challenge. His promise was that he would personally discuss details with each person regarding what would be best for both them and the remaining team. His concern was that people would move to better jobs, be re-deployed in other parts of the organization, and that he would ensure they moved with their total dignity and respect intact. He also promised that he would not delegate this task to HR or anyone else. He saw it as his total responsibility!
A couple of years later, I had the opportunity to ask that same Regional Director how, whenever I visited him, his desk was always clear, and he would make time to see me. He responded that he had highly skilled and experienced managers, leaders, and heads of department to run the region from day to day. So everything that arrived at his office had someone’s name on it, and was delegated or distributed as soon as possible. He kept for himself his activities as regional representative, and as support person for his team colleagues. Moments after he told me that, one of his senior managers popped his head around the door to say his car had a problem, so his alternative method of long-distance travel to a meeting he was attending on behalf of the director might make him arrive late. The director said, “Here, take my car. I can make my way home this evening without it. You need it more than I do!”Back to Top
Bill Phillips is an International Facilitator, Trainer, and Team Coach.
In this module, Bill is the instructor for the ‘Leading With Emotional Intelligence’, 'How to Delegate to Your Team', and 'Providing Effective Feedback' lessons.
Kevin Reid is CEO of Personal Skills Training, Senior Coach at Kevin J Reid Coaching, Co-founder and Communications Director of The Counsel.ie, and Lead Collaborator of LeitrimMade.com.
In this module, Kevin is the instructor for the ‘Coaching and Mentoring’ lesson.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
As a leader, you will only be as successful as the people who work with you. So it makes sense to build the best, most effective teams possible, and get the most out of your daily interactions with colleagues.
This module will introduce you to the concept of emotional intelligence – a skill that should be in every leader’s toolkit. Emotional intelligence can help you enhance your working relationships at all levels, and you should aim to practice it every day in the workplace.
You will also learn about coaching and mentoring – and how these two activities can bring out the best in your employees.
In addition, you will learn about delegation. How can you delegate successfully? What tasks should you delegate? And how can you ensure you get the best results? The lesson on delegation provides you with the answers.
Finally, the module also looks at feedback, and explains why leaders should never be afraid to provide it – even when the feedback is negative.
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