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5 Critical Components of Successful Delegation that Improves TRUST

Delegation is a powerful leadership skill. Yet, most leaders don't receive adequate training in delegating effectively or don't fully understand it's importance.

Frequently, managers tell me that they don't delegate enough because they think staff are too busy or tasks are too boring to pass on.

Yet, this demonstrates a common misperception that delegation is about assigning tasks. Leaders often carry a lot of unnecessary guilt about burdening their staff with more things to do. The result is exhaustion and burn out.

Research from McKinsey revealed that some middle managers spend up to two days a week on individual contributor work and a day a week on administrative tasks, in addition to their management responsibilities. Too much work, combined with too little time and resources adds up to scores of exhausted managers, who are almost twice as likely to leave their employer, according to a Microsoft study.

The truth is that we will get better results if we shift our mindset to understanding that delegation is about improving the skill levels of our direct reports and believing in their potential. 

When you get that right, it builds trust between you and your direct report. Trust is essential to work relationships.

While I teach a 14 step delegation process in my Leadership Mastermind program, I want to share five critical components that summarises the important parts of successful delegation. 

5 Critical Components of Successful Delegation-2

Let's break it down:

Trust - Trust is at the heart of delegation. It's about trusting your reports to get work done well and on time. And it's your reports feeling that you trust them.

It can be misguided to shelter your team from too much work because long term, it reduces their capability to get work done. Paradoxically, they start to feel they aren't trusted which can reduce engagement and team morale.

An effective delegation process automatically develops shared trust between you and your report. Shared trust is when you both work at bridging what needs to be done to trust one another. Accountability for building trust in the working relationship is taken on by both parties, rather than one giving trust freely or one demanding it.

Provide Concise and Clear Instructions - This might seem obvious, but clear communication is paramount. This means that you need to have clarity around what needs to be done. 

Clear thinking precedes clear communication which is why planning is critical to the delegation process.

Delegation is a lot of work upfront. It takes effort and planning. The benefit is that it minimises the amount of rework, errors and conflict. It is worth the investment of time.

After all, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Poor delegation is when people don't know the context behind a task or how to do the task properly. Make sure you explain what needs to be done, why and how.

Define Achievable Expectations - Likewise, providing clear expectations is critical. This means explaining what success or even failure looks like.

This needs to be communicated through four different lenses:

  1. time (how long will it take, when is it to be done by, realistically),
  2. budget (what resources can be used, how much budget is assigned),
  3. safety (no injuries, how is the work to be done) and
  4. quality (what are the acceptable quality standards, what does client success look like?)

Make sure whatever goals you communicate stay the same. Shifting goalposts make it hard for people to achieve an acceptable standard.

Provide Timely Support  - Direct reports will complain about the delegation process when they are given a task and are left on their own to figure out what to do. It might seem okay to throw people into the deep end and expect them to swim, but not everyone copes with that strategy.

Your employees want to be able to ask questions and know that you are there to guide them.

Best practice is to bake in progressive feedback by scheduling check-ins and milestones. This ensures you have time to fix any issues in a swift manner. 

Employees want their boss to help them when they come up against hurdles. People are more likely to trust you if you are following up to make sure they are okay and removing bottlenecks.

Provide Corrective Feedback - Often, leaders will accept work at a poor standard because there isn't time to fix it. Avoid this common trap because it creates a vicious cycle of poor quality work that can spread like a contagion in your team.

Give people actionable feedback that helps them exceed standards. Don't be afraid to make people redo work a number of times before you are fully satisfied. 

When you do this consistently and in a manner that shows you helping your report do their best work, they will learn to apply themselves more. It will works towards improving accountability.

Successful Delegation

Mastering the art of delegation involves placing trust in your team members to complete tasks effectively while believing in their abilities. This skill not only enhances your overall impact but also allows you to focus on more strategic and important responsibilities.

As a leader, your role extends beyond just overseeing daily tasks - it includes refining processes, supporting your team, strategizing for the future, and maximising productivity. Falling into the trap of thinking your team is too busy or certain tasks are beneath them only hinders their growth and development.

Breaking free from this mindset is essential for both your team's progress and your own. By becoming a trusted leader who delegates effectively, you empower your team to expand their skills and achieve better results.


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