How can I work towards delegating tasks and responsibilities to members of my team?

Elaine Varelas provides tips and guidance on best practices when it comes to learning to delegate.

Q. I’m horrible at delegating tasks and want to keep my hand in everything at my firm. How can I relinquish control and step back and let my employees handle more?  The stress of being “in the weeds” is leading to burnout and health issues.

A. Congratulations to you for recognizing the problem and more so for recognizing the mental and physical impact not delegating is taking on you. And recognize that you aren’t alone in being impacted.  Your staff sees this and they too are impacted, and not in good ways. People typically micromanage and do not delegate, because they lack trust and confidence in the capabilities of their direct reports.

The most important thing for you to identify is why it is so hard to delegate. Is it fear? If you fear that the person you delegate responsibilities to isn’t capable, then you need to change that person. Whether it is fear or reality that someone is not capable, you can’t let someone who’s not capable of doing their job impact you negatively. If you are truly dedicated to changing this behavior, you need to have a conversation with your reports.  inlet them know you need to delegate more, which they already know.  Tell them you are developing this skill, and as with all new skills it takes practice. What you need from them is accountability, and  you would appreciate them over-communicating with you. Recognize that it's over-communication and that your ultimate goal is to back off on the amount of communication and updates that you need going forward while you build that skill.

Employees who don't feel trusted cannot fully engage, since they are not in the position to make any decisions. Again, continue the conversation with your reports.  Let them know that you have confidence in them and their abilities to do their job, and you'd like their help identifying duties and tasks that they feel they are capable of that you could be delegating to them.

When delegating, it’s important to outline exactly what needs to be done and the results you expect, and in what timeframe.  Do not outline every step in the process.  Encourage them to come to you with their approach if different from what yours has been and reach out to you if they have any questions, sooner rather than later. Be clear with your expectations. You can set up checkpoints along the way.  Remember they too are in learning mode.

If there are any serious issues or problems along the way, advise them to alert you quickly. Let your team know that when problems do arise, you want their suggestions on how to solve them. Let them know that you must be able to inform the person that you report to about issues and that your being left in the dark is not good for your own professional wellbeing.

Delegating is absolutely a learned skill. Think about how much more you can accomplish in your job and how much more your colleagues can accomplish in their jobs. By empowering your employees and building a culture of trust, delegation can lead to better job satisfaction and engagement by offering staff the opportunity to truly be responsible for meaningful work. Delegation also provides employees with a greater sense of autonomy and control over their work, which can lead to a greater sense of purpose and engagement.