Question: Looking for leadership experts/coaches: How to delegate?

I am looking for experts who can advise on how to delegate effectively. Tips for middle managers and administrative professionals who need to delegate both up and down.

What are some ways to be effective? What are some things to avoid?

7 Expert Insights

The first rule of delegation is to delegate for results. That is, you ask people to do something specific to achieve the results the team and the organization needs.
You communicate to others that you are delegating authority and responsibility to this individual.
You make the individual accountable for results and you hold yourself accountable for ensuring the individual has the time, resources and manpower to do the job effectively.

The pre-requisite for delegating is trust, which can only develop over a period of time. I recommend a process of testing that starts with low risk tasks and gradually increases in risk over time commensurate with your experience. It is up to the delegator to make their expectations known to the delegatee who should confirm their understanding of what is expected. And, it is up to the delegator to verify after the fact and hold the delegatee accountable. More often than not, the delegator will go through this process taking the positive outcomes for granted and punishing the negative outcomes. This often leads to confusion. Both positive and negative outcomes should be recognized in order to maintained a balanced relationship.

Effective delegation empowers another person to master the task

Clarity- Is the "task" clear, boundaries and expectations communicated and received?
Is the purpose (bigger picture) understood? This is key to tapping intrinsic motivation of purpose.
Does the person have everything they need to do the task? Ask!
      Autonomy to make decisions
Are follow up steps clear and communicated- put it on your calendar too.

Here are my tips for effective delegation:
• Make critical priorities clear – to avoid unnecessary stress, which tends to inhibit performance and may contribute to outright failure.
• Provide sufficient resources to execute priorities – to minimize de-motivating situations and burnout, which are likely to make it more difficult for capable people to give their best.
• Provide unfiltered access and two-way exchanges – to foster mutual trust and confidence, which help to reduce missed deadlines and preempt crises.
• Empower to take prudent risks, make occasional mistakes, and learn from them – to encourage the kind of initiative, which allows others to find meaning in their jobs.
• Discourage micromanagement in self and others – to avoid undermining confidence, the lack of which induces minimum performance to “stay out of trouble.”

You will have taken the right steps towards effective delegation, when the person receiving the delegated responsibilities, and appropriate level of authority, feels invested in your and the organization’s success whether you are present - or not.

Effective delegation is a process.  The more you practice, the more confident you will become at handing over projects, assignments or other routine duties to others.  I've outlined a number of steps that will help a first time manager or seasoned executive become more effective with delegation.

Here's the link to the slide deck on slide share.

Follow these steps and figure out the style and circumstances that work best for you.  And remember, great delegation should be as much about helping the employee develop as it is for getting things off your plate.

Before delegating, ensure that your vision is understood, and that there is proper alignment to strategic direction.

Delegate to people's expertise, capabilities, and growth. Otherwise, lead and set a benchmark before you delegate. Never delegate what you do best - be mindful enough to know that that does not mean everything.

Use Delegation as a Tool for Increasing Team Member Engagement

In order for delegation to be productive, it should be viewed as a developmental investment in the future,  where possible. The "task" is being assigned not just to "get it done", but to provide the employee with a stretch opportunity -- an opportunity to go beyond the current job description and test/develop skills that will be useful in the next assignment.

With this in mind, it's important that two essential criteria are met: that the employee is both "ready" and "willing". The absence of either increases the risk of failure.

I personally and directly observed the success of this approach years ago during my IBM career, when I was often the employee being approached with the delegation opportunity. Over time, I saw my peers lining up as we requested delegation opportunities. They weren't always fun, but they built experience, tangible results, mutual confidence and "career capital" which was not  anyone.