The Handover: The Art and Skill of Delegating

Raise your hand if you routinely delegate work to your employees. Hmmm. Not many hands in the air, I see. Let’s find out why and then look at ways you can master the art and skill of the handover.

First, here’s a poll on delegation. Check all that apply to you.

Take heart. These are normal reasons for not delegating. But try to take a longer view. The results of hoarding the workload can be disastrous for you and your team. Here’s what can happen when you don’t delegate.

  • You suffer burnout (sooner or later)
  • The workload suffers (things slip through the cracks)
  • Employees are undeveloped and unmotivated (those who want to do more, can’t)

As you can see, nothing good comes from your doing all of the work, so here are some guidelines to help you learn how to delegate effectively.

Planning:
Before you delegate work, assess the work and the people. When evaluating your workload, consider the following:

  • How much time do things take?
  • How frequently do they occur: ongoing (daily, weekly, monthly), or one-time projects?
  • Which tasks don’t I delegate because I like them? Should I delegate any of these?
  • Which tasks do I delegate because I dislike doing them? Are there any I should be doing myself?
  • If the task can be delegated, who can do it? Consider the skills, experience, talent, and reliability of each of your employees. Understand each person’s strengths and limitations and then select those who are willing and able to carry out the task.

When in doubt about whether you should assign work to someone (you feel they’re not quite ready), don’t do it. It’s better not to delegate at all, then to do so and then have to take it away.

Delegation Meeting:
Once you’ve matched the work with the appropriate person, meet with him or her to:

  • Define the task objectives, using specific, measurable terms (use the SMART criteria).
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task.
  • Discuss how the assignment fits into the big picture, why it’s important to the group/organization.
  • Review the delegation contract, outlining the division of responsibility, resources available, deadlines, how performance will be measured, and when and how follow up will take place.
  • Check for understanding.
  • Express confidence in the person.
  • After the meeting, let everyone know that the task/project has been delegated and to whom.

Follow Up:
This is a crucial part of the process. Don’t skip any steps here!

  • Be available to discuss issues and collaborate on problem-solving. (Don’t solve the problem for your employee unless it’s absolutely necessary.)
  • Provide appropriate and timely feedback, both positive and critical.
  • Evaluate the completed task/project, and decide on future opportunities for that person.

Of course, all of this will take time, but you and your team will reap big rewards because of it. Some of your time will be freed up for you to take on managerial duties, such as strategic planning and decision-making. Your employees will view you more as a manager rather than their peer. Finally, your employees will have a chance to develop and stretch when they want to.

The handover . . .   Try it, even if it’s only in bite-size pieces. Take a portion of a project and hand it off to someone. See what happens.

The next post deals with the business of analyzing performance issues. Until next time . . .

2 thoughts on “The Handover: The Art and Skill of Delegating

  1. Just found your site! Keep the articles coming. With the short staff and full schedule there is no time for training on how to handle stuff like this. Thanks for the advice.

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