Nothing will help you get more done in less time than delegating…effectively. Letting go of control is hard, especially if you are used to working alone. Here are some tips for handing over control strategically.
What are they good at? What are they bad at? What keeps them up at night? How/when/where do they do their best work? Getting to know the people you work with is crucial for effective delegation because it will help you build trust and play to people’s strengths.
2. Play to their strengths
No one is perfect. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Giving people projects that are well-suited to their strengths is the best way to start delegating. From there you can broaden the work to include new skills that may be a bit outside their comfort zone. Sometimes this will also mean recognizing that someone’s strengths don’t lend themselves to the work you need then to do. Acknowledging that early on and taking action will save you (and them) a lot of stress.
3. Invest time to save time
I often fall into the trap of just doing things myself because it will take me less time than explaining to someone else how to do it. Invest that time on the front end to explain your work to employees or partners so that you can rely on them. You may also find that they have a better way of doing something.
4. Be clear about your priorities and values
We all have our quirks, things that are important to us for reasons that are not always rational. If you are crazy about formatting, or the Oxford comma, or the way your tables are presented in slides, be upfront about it so that others can avoid having to go back and re-do things. On the flip side, evaluate whether your priorities and values truly add to the work, or simply reinforce your sense of control.
5. Focus on results
With the above in mind, I recommend also having a talk with yourself about whether you are unhappy with the end result of a project done by someone else or their path to getting there. For many of us it is hard to delegate because we have a set way of doing things. Sometimes those ways are rational, sometimes they are not. There is value in letting others figure things out for themselves (to a certain extent) through trial and error, as long as the end product still meets your expectations.
6. Embrace failure
It is going to happen. It happens to all of us. When it does, embrace it and move on to what can be learned from it. Creating a culture where people are afraid to fail doesn’t mean people will fail less, it means that they won’t come to you when they do.
7. Trust but verify, within reason
This one is tricky because everyone hates being micromanaged. Set up systems to verify progress on projects so that you can monitor and provide feedback. Try not to scrutinize every detail.