The art of delegation

Image of signpost, demonstrating delegation choices.

Delegation! A hot topic, it appears.

VTT Creative director Catherine Nicholson posted a LinkedIn status regarding delegation and encouraging her connections to share with others their thoughts and tips for what to say when delegating tasks to others.

It gained a lot of interest and some great insights from her community so we thought we would share some of the responses received on delegation.

Our question

Here is the original post and subsequent question on delegation;

“Had a fascinating conversation yesterday about the art of delegation. We discussed saying things like “can you do me a favour / would you mind  / I’m sorry but” when delegating and how this can (not always) make for a less effective delegation — especially when from a manager to their team.

What are your thoughts and tips on what to say when delegating? Would love to hear (if you don’t mind… sorry!)”

The responses

The responses we received were fantastic, so we have chosen just a few to share with you. If you want to read all of the suggestions, you can find the original post here.

Response 1

“I think there is an argument for both. I’ve worked in jobs before where there’s a task to complete. It could be difficult or time sensitive but [if] someone asks me to do something ‘for them’ it can be a great motivator. Especially if part of a small team. I don’t want my team to look bad, so knowing I am helping someone on a professional and personal level [it’s] part of what keeps me striving. I think it depends on the individual and the relationship of the team. There are undoubtedly situations where a more assertive approach is more desirable, but I’ve always been a fan of a more personal approach.”

Response 2

“In my experience, it is better received when you approach people from a place of assuring them that they are the best person for the task as opposed to making them feel as if they are doing you a favour or picking up slack.

Ex. 1. You are truly an expert at _____ and I would love to have you work on ______ for the team.  2. You always seem to do such a great job at _______ it would be great if you could complete _______.  3. I know I can always count on you when it comes to _________ so I’d really appreciate it [if] you could take care of _________ for us. 

These have worked for me and gotten great results.”

Response 3

“I have always believed that when delegating, a professional expectation is set prior to the request.  I keep all of my communications professional but change up the delivery, sometimes humorous other times to the point. The key is to create an emotional connection, so the employee is empowered by your direction. The truth is, that a leader should delegate with integrity and treat their teams as such so that the employees will accomplish the task because they have that emotional connection.”

Final thoughts

Some really great ideas here, we are sure you will agree. Delegation is something that needs doing and doing with skill. Thinking about what you want achieved and who you are delegating to is essential to quality delegation.

Is it more transactional or more relational is another concept to consider — meaning can they do the task with or without your involvement is another area to consider? We should delegate and should do it well considering the delegatee’s experience and your relationship with them.

Do you delegate where you should or are you holding tasks back because you like doing them or because of trust issues perhaps?

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