Unlocking the 9 secrets of successful delegation: Empowering your team for success | Inquirer Business

Unlocking the 9 secrets of successful delegation: Empowering your team for success

/ 02:02 AM March 27, 2023



In my decades of global experience interacting with and advising famous business leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs and famous entrepreneurs around the world, including billionaires, most of them ask me the question: “How do I delegate most effectively?”

Most CEOs and business owners fall into one of two categories: Either they are too hands on or too hands off. They rarely get the middle ground right. There are many examples of CEOs and family business owners, especially in Asia, whose businesses would be doing a lot better if they were more involved in the day-to-day.


But how do you strike that balance between successful delegation and avoiding micromanagement, between having a helicopter view of your business and knowing enough of the details to spot if something major is wrong?


What is the “art of delegation”?

Delegation is a sign of strength and confidence in one’s team, and effective delegation can lead to better outcomes for both the leader and the team: Improving productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction.

Delegation is a critical skill for any manager or leader. It allows you to focus on your strengths and expertise while empowering your team members to take ownership of their work, develop new skills and contribute to the success of your organization. But effective delegation requires more than just assigning tasks to others. In this article, we’ll explore the secrets of successful delegation and provide a step-by-step process for mastering this critical leadership skill.

Step 1: Determine which tasks to delegate

The first step in delegation is to determine which tasks to delegate. Consider the level of complexity, the importance of the task and the team member’s skill level and experience. You should also consider delegating tasks that align with team members’ interests and development goals. This can help to keep them motivated and engaged in their work.

Step 2: Select the right team members

Once you’ve identified the tasks to delegate, it’s important to select the right team members for the job. Consider their skills, experience and workload, as well as their interest in the task and potential for growth. You should also consider the team’s diversity when delegating tasks to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute and develop new skills.

Step 3: Set clear expectations —good enough vs excellent

Clear expectations are essential for successful delegation. Communicate specific goals, timelines and quality standards for the delegated task. Provide team members with the necessary resources, training and support to ensure their success. Make sure that they understand the scope of the task, the desired outcome and any constraints or limitations.

If it is enough for you that a given task is “done” rather than it being “perfect,” say so. Tell them that 51 percent is good enough and that they should first get the task above the bar before they get it to excellent. Most managers, CEOs and business owners do not define that clearly enough because they think others will understand things “intuitively.” I have been married for over 20 years and even my wife still does not understand things intuitively when I communicate—and neither will your people. Clarity breeds execution. Be clear.


Step 4: Communicate clearly

Effective communication is essential for successful delegation. Make sure to communicate your expectations, goals and any relevant details or constraints. Consider using written instructions or checklists to ensure that team members have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. For example, you might provide a written procedure for how to handle customer complaints or a checklist for preparing a presentation.

Step 5: Communicate not just the ‘what’ but the ‘why’

Most managers do not do that, but all famous business leaders do. It is one of the most overlooked ingredients of supreme world-class performance and ruthless execution.

When I was conducting a major planning and strategy exercise for one of the largest Filipino conglomerates before their global expansion, their owner and CEO came to me afterward and said, “My biggest eye opener for me was how it all starts and ends with why, our purpose, our customer centricity and how we can stay relevant for our customers in the years to come.” What he meant was the overall business purpose, of course, but what applies to the general applies to the small: You have to communicate the “why.”

Most managers or CEOs do not do that. They content themselves with giving orders instead of explaining how a given task they delegate fits into the big picture. Guess what: The execution of a task you delegate is much higher and faster if you add the “why.” Next time you delegate an important task, try that: Explain the “why” and how this task is linked to the overall goals and vision of the company.

Step 6: Provide support, training and feedback

Support and feedback are critical for the success of delegated tasks. Provide regular check-ins, coaching and constructive feedback to help team members develop their skills and improve performance. Provide additional resources or support as needed to ensure their success.

This might include formal training sessions, one-on-one coaching or access to resources such as software, tools or databases. For example, you might provide a training session on how to use a new software tool or provide a mentor to coach a team member through a challenging task.

Step 7: Encourage feedback and collaboration

Delegation should be a collaborative process that encourages feedback and open communication. Encourage team members to ask questions, provide feedback and offer suggestions for improvement. This can help to improve the quality of the work, and foster a sense of ownership and investment in the task. For example, you might ask team members to share their ideas for improving a process or ask for feedback on a presentation draft.

Step 8: Monitor progress

It’s important to monitor progress to ensure that tasks are completed on time and to the desired quality. Use performance metrics and project management tools to track progress and identify any issues or areas for improvement. Regularly check in with team members to address any concerns or challenges they may be facing.

Step 9: Recognize and reward success

To motivate and encourage team members, recognize and reward their successes and achievements. This might include public recognition, bonuses or promotions. Celebrate milestones and accomplishments to show that you appreciate their hard work and dedication. For example, you might publicly recognize a team member’s contribution to a successful project or offer a bonus for completing a task ahead of schedule.

Remember: Social recognition usually trumps cash in most societies and so it does in the Philippines. Make them feel proud for having done something special by showcasing it before others or praising them publicly. INQ

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Tom Oliver, a “global management guru” (Bloomberg), is the chair of The Tom Oliver Group, the trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential family businesses, medium-sized enterprises, market leaders and global conglomerates. For more information and inquiries: www.TomOliverGroup.com or email [email protected].


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