As a manager, your time is both valuable and in high demand. Managers who concentrate on excelling at high-level strategy and project management are vital to a company’s success. That’s why the delegation process is a necessary and powerful tool that managers must master.

The Importance of Delegation

While it’s often easier in the short term to do something yourself, delegation has significant long-term benefits that outweigh the short-term convenience of a quick turnaround. It might be easier right now to handle a task yourself, especially when it’s connected to a project you’ve overseen and guided from the beginning, but handing tasks over to your employees is usually better long term.

It might not be a good use of your time to handle individual tasks within a project. Delegation allows you to free up time to do what you’re skilled at.

Delegation can also act as a form of on-the-job training for your employees. Part of delegating tasks to employees involves trusting them, empowering them and providing training and guidance to ensure they succeed. The delegation process helps ensure your employees become more comfortable with new tasks, widening their skill sets. If you’ve delegated properly and to the right people, you only have to make this time investment once; the next time you delegate a similar task to the same employee, the individual should have the tools to handle it independently. If you’d handled the task yourself, you’d have to do so the next time too.

The Delegation Process

There are a number of strategies for effective delegation. Managers must learn to trust their employees to do the work. Be available for feedback and questions, but make it clear that the tasks are their job and they have the power and authority to do them. However, the buck stops with you. Delegating a task to an employee doesn’t absolve you of responsibility if that task isn’t completed or done poorly.

Playing to the individual strengths of your employees is also important; it reduces training time and increases the chances of success. Even an employee who excels at the kind of task you are delegating will need clear instructions, and a way to determine priorities and work accordingly.

Steps of Delegation

It’s important to develop a process for delegation so that you can delegate in an effective, structured way. Good delegation consists of four main steps.

STEP 1: PREPARE

Your employees can’t read your mind; they need clear instructions and expectations. To ensure they have what they need, you must spend time thinking about what a successfully completed task looks like. Make sure expectations are unambiguous and transparent, and avoid changing goals or expectations partway through the project.

STEP 2: ASSIGN

Choose an employee for the task based on skills and work style. Take into account your employees’ experience level, their level of independence, their career goals and workload. Ensure that your assignment comes with the relevant information (instructions, timeline, budget and any other factors).

STEP 3: DISCUSS

Confirm with the employee that he or she understands the parameters of the task you’ve assigned. To clear up any misconceptions or miscommunications, ask the employee to explain the task to you. Make sure the employee feels prepared to handle the task and has the necessary resources. Next, confirm the employee’s commitment to the task. Don’t just assume he or she will do the job you’ve assigned; verify agreement to accomplish it.

STEP 4: REPORT

Develop a plan for employee accountability. This might take the form of regular progress reports or meetings. What’s important is that you remain aware of your employee’s progress on the task and that you communicate openly if a problem arises. If there is a problem, don’t be afraid to return to step 1.

Jefferson’s online bachelor’s degree in business management and online Innovation MBA can teach you the skills you need to manage and delegate effectively. Good delegation is a key component of good business, often making the difference between success and failure.