Those of us who work alone frequently need to at least maximize, if not increase, our productivity and hiring part-time or temporary help may be what it takes to get us there. Sometimes, you need to ramp up to take on a big project for which you’ll need specialized competencies that are not in your skill set, prompting you to hire subcontractors. In that case, you’ll lead a team and coordinate numerous tasks that drive completion of the project deliverables. In other cases, you need administrative help to free you from routine tasks like bookkeeping and invoicing, or following-up with customer service requests.
In each scenario, the ability to effectively delegate will be instrumental in creating a positive working environment, where your hired help will strive to do their best work, so that desired outcomes are achieved.
Delegating can be considered both an art and a science and with practice, it can be mastered. An unwillingness or inability to delegate indicates poor leadership. Leaders who insist upon having their hands tightly on the wheel of every initiative are often perceived as controlling micromanagers by those who work with them. Such behavior telegraphs a lack of trust or even respect. It is demotivating and ultimately counterproductive. Here’s a checklist to help you perfect your delegating skill.
- Learn and assess the skills and interests of team members/ employees Consult with and observe your team members or employees when putting together a working group or assigning tasks and accommodate, to the best of your ability, their strengths and preferences, according to the project needs. This could be a skills development opportunity for some and the wise leader will enable that process whenever possible and reap the benefits.
- Choose the right tasks to delegate You, team leader, are responsible for understanding and communicating the strategic, big picture view of the work. Subcontractors and part-time help are responsible for their area of specialized skills. You coordinate all tasks and ensure that milestones are met and the deliverables are provided within the project deadline and budget.
- Provide the tools and authority to do the work Ensure that your employees or team have the resources—information, time, budget, equipment— and the authority to do what you’ve asked of them. Don’t make them run to you whenever they need to take action. Rather, empower them and let them apply their intelligence and creativity to making you look good.
- Be clear about expectations Explain the goals of the project or tasks and how they support short or long-term plans. Explain how results/ success will be measured. Confirm that those who work for or with you understand their individual responsibilities and the collective goal. Make sure that the goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
- Provide feedback, guidance and encouragement. Acknowledge success. Monitor performance and quickly correct any misunderstandings or problems. Find teachable moments and provide training or useful suggestions when needed. Encourage and enable excellent work to keep people motivated and productivity high. Team members and employees will appreciate that you recognize and diplomatically call out both superior and weak performances.
Thanks for reading,
Image: A Goldsmith in Baghdad (1901), Kamal al-Mulk (1847-1941) courtesy of the Islamic Consultative Assembly in Tehran, Iran