How To Delegate And Get More Done (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar
Oct. 12, 2022
Skills Based Articles

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To delegate means to entrust someone who is your subordinate with a task or responsibility. Good leaders must learn the art of effective delegation. There is only so much work the average human being can handle.

There comes a time when leaders must delegate responsibility to their teams to ensure the organization continues to work efficiently and employees avoid burnout.

We’ll cover important leadership qualities for effective delegation and provide tips for how to delegate in different situations.

Key Takeaways:

  • When delegating you should delegate based on priority and based on everyone’s strengths.

  • It’s important to communicate your instructions clearly and set milestones and deadlines for everyone.

  • You should avoid micromanaging and being closed off to any new ideas of how to get the work done.

  • Delegating helps to build trust with your employees and it creates a better work environment.

How To Delegate And Get More Done (With Examples)

What is a Leader?

A leader is a person who commands or influences an organization, group, or country. People who are under the leader’s command usually follow that person and look up to them.

Leadership is one of the most important soft skills. Organizations usually look for employees with strong leadership qualities to work for them.

But there is a vast difference between good and bad leaders.

  • A bad leader is one that leads through oppression. People may follow a bad leader, but only because they are afraid and they need their jobs. But secretly, they may hate that person.

  • A good leader motivates people to be the best that they can be. Great leaders also inspire respect and promote a sense of camaraderie within the teams that they lead.

Characteristics Of a Good Leader

  1. Accountable. Accountability means you should take responsibility for the things that go wrong. That’s because you have the authority to make decisions on behalf of your subordinates. After all, if things go right, you would get some of the credit; the blame belongs to you too.

  2. Visionary. Visionary leaders usually see far into the future and make plans for the organization so that they can continue to succeed.

    If you are to lead your team, you must have the foresight to see the possibilities even if they still exist only in your imagination. The late Steve Jobs is a good example of what a visionary leader is.

  3. Good communicator. A good communicator is someone that listens and speaks clearly to others. Your audience should never be confused. And you must not only take time to hear what others are saying but also understand them before replying.

    Also, good communication must be done in moderate and polite tones. Shouting and being rude while communicating is not the mark of a good leader. It makes people feel disrespected.

  4. Able to delegate. The ability to delegate is also part and parcel of good leadership.

    When you allow your junior colleagues to carry out some of the tasks that you could do, it enables them to feel that they are contributing to the organization’s success. That gives them a sense of ownership of the company.

    The average employee is likely to appreciate the trust you give them as the boss. And such a person will do their best to prove they are worthy of that trust.

  5. Empathetic. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone’s shoes and try to understand a situation from that person’s perspective. It’s a major aspect of emotional intelligence, which many great leaders have.

    When you practice empathy in every aspect of your leadership, your colleagues will feel that you understand them. They will feel important. And they will become more productive.

  6. A problem solver. The ability to solve problems is part of leadership. When a conflict arises, it will be up to you to solve the issues between your colleagues so that they can continue to work together smoothly. You must be able to offer a fair solution to the problem.

    You must also find ways to solve technical problems that affect your company’s bottom line. You can do this by offering good ideas or inspiring others to come up with creative solutions to the problem.

  7. Self-aware. Good leaders must have self-awareness. That means you should have the ability to know and understand your feelings, personality traits, and character.

    Knowing yourself will enable you to work on your strengths and weaknesses. Then you can communicate clearly and manage others better.

    This characteristic also makes you more amenable to constructive criticism when it is offered to you by people that you work with.

  8. Resilient. Organizations tend to go through good and bad times. As a leader, you must be able to withstand the tough times when they come. And you must be able to quickly recover from them.

    You must focus on finding the solutions that will keep your company afloat. And you must do that as you steer your ship and everyone within it so that your colleagues don’t lose hope or leave for greener pastures.

7 Ways to Delegate and Get More Done

Now that we have established that delegating responsibility is one of the important characteristics of a good leader, you need to know how to go about doing it. When you do it well, then you can get more things done.

The following seven strategies can help you delegate better:

  1. Let go and delegate based on priority. You need to assign each task on your plate a priority rating. Determine what is:

    • Urgent

    • Important

    • Urgent and important

    • Neither urgent nor important

    Weigh your to-do tasks against what you are good at doing. Then, decide what you must do on your own and what others can do better with minimal interference from you.

    While there are duties you can assign, some will require your input. Learning the difference is the key to maintaining your sanity as a leader.

    Once you have determined what to delegate, let go of some of your responsibilities. Entrust others with the tasks and let them try to do what is required.

  2. Assign tasks based on everyone’s strengths. It is much easier to let people work based on their strengths rather than forcing them to learn new skills.

    Take a look at the personality traits and skills that your colleagues have. Then delegate tasks based on how well they will accomplish them.

    People find work to be more enjoyable when it’s something they are good at. They will likely excel when you entrust more responsibility to them. And everyone will be happy with their accomplishments.

  3. Communicate your instructions clearly. You must establish and maintain clear lines of communication at all times when you delegate work. It doesn’t matter how obvious a job seems to you; you need to clarify what you want in a way everyone can understand.

    And if you need certain tasks using a specific process, you must make that clear too. Then answer any questions that people ask. You can also let your team members discuss any issues that arise during the project.

  4. Set milestones and deadlines. Set up milestones and deadlines for tasks that you want others to do.

    Milestones will enable your team members to know that they are making progress. It also enables them to pause and celebrate their accomplishments, which will help them feel rejuvenated for the next phase.

    And deadlines will instill a sense of urgency that will motivate everyone to finish their jobs on time.

  5. Empower your subordinates. It is not enough to let go of your control and delegate responsibilities. You must empower your colleagues by giving them the authority that they need to finish the tasks you assign to them.

    Additionally, you must mentor those working under you so that they can learn the ropes easily. Even those that don’t have the right set of skills to do what needs to be done are likely to learn them with the right teacher.

    At the end of the day, your empowered colleagues will use those skills regularly and become more valuable assets to the organization.

  6. Follow up with everyone when necessary. Learn to manage and supervise your team from a distance. Do this by following up with everyone’s progress at strategic points.

    One way to follow up with people is to let them come to you if an issue arises. You can enable this by having regular update meetings. You can also keep up with the progress of everyone you have delegated work to at each milestone point.

    Let those who have done a great job know that you are happy with their work by acknowledging them publicly. Then, offer constructive criticism to those that failed to meet the set targets.

  7. Allow everyone room to grow. If you’re a perfectionist, it can be tempting to expect your workers or colleagues to do their tasks perfectly the first time around.

    However, you need to let people do things in their own ways. All that matters is that they follow the instructions you have set and hit the target milestones.

    Failure is a good thing. Let people experiment and use whatever method that works to accomplish their tasks. Letting people figure out what to do on their own is a great way to promote creativity and innovation.

Why Is Delegation Important

  • Builds trust. When you delegate tasks to others, it shows that you trust someone to do the job well. Having trust with your coworkers and employees creates a stronger work relationship and improve workplace morale overall.

  • Helps employees gain new skills. When employees get a new task, they are going to be using a news skill they may not have a chance to use yet. It’s a great way for them to learn and improve.

  • Reduces stress. When you delegate, you are relieving the stress on yourself more. This reduces the chances of burnout and possible resentment of your job.

  • Creates learning opportunities. Giving your employees new tasks, it helps them learn new things. If you give a newer employees a new task, it helps them better understand what the company does. This will help them do their job better later on.

  • Increases accountability. Some employees will hold themselves more accountable when they are doing delegated work. They know they should do a good job since it is someone’s work.

Delegation Mistakes to Avoid

  • Don’t micromanage. After giving your employee a task, make sure you give them time and space to complete it. Don’t go over to them every five minutes to see what they have done and see if anything is wrong. This won’t help you build trust with your employees.

  • Don’t take the work back. Let your employee finish the project. Try to avoid taking the work back or doing it on the side. Let them finish it and try to offer support if they need it.

  • Don’t fixate on the negative. If there is a tiny thing wrong with the work, don’t fixate on it. Let them know that something is wrong, and let them fix the mistake. Mistakes are the best way to learn, so give your employees a chance to learn.

  • Don’t be closed off to new ideas. You may like the way of doing things, but someone might find a different way of doing it. Allow them to do it the way they like. It may end up being more efficient for them.

Final Thoughts

Learning to let go and let others assume some of your workload can be difficult. Both you and those you entrust with some of your work will have to navigate the challenges that come with delegation.

Your subordinates may surprise you. They may come up with more efficient ways of doing things that will improve your organization’s productivity and bottom line. All they need is one chance to prove themselves.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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Topics: Hard Skills, Skills