Delegating Tasks Effectively: 6 Steps For Success
In business and in life, delegating tasks effectively is a key skill for success. This is even more true if you’re an executive leading a growing business or the founder of your own startup.
Even highly experienced business pros only have so many hours in a day. If you’re all-in for growth, chances are you’re working with an executive assistant to share the load of tasks so that you can focus on taking your business to the next level.
By learning to delegate tasks properly to your executive assistant, you can save time, energy, and stress. You can also improve your own productivity and efficiency — and that of your business.
Read on to discover the 6 steps involved in delegating tasks efficiently and how good delegation skills can make you a more successful leader
The importance of delegation for founders and executives
One of the most important skills of a good leader, no matter what industry they work in, is being able to delegate work effectively to their team.
Unfortunately, many leaders lack this skill, either because they don’t know how to delegate or they don’t trust their team to do the task right. This leaves them at risk of burnout and, maybe even worse, losing sight of the larger goals they have set for their company.
Without proper delegation, leaders can unintentionally slow the growth of their business by micromanaging their employees and taking on too much work.
If you hire people you trust, it’s in your best interest to let them do what they do best and help them push their own limits by taking on new challenges and growing their skills. You are 100% more powerful as a leader with a motivated and engaged team behind you.
6 steps to start delegating effectively
Feeling crushed by the weight of all the work you have to do in the coming months but not sure where to start? Put your inner control freak away and begin by delegating some of that work to the executive assistant (or team of assistants) you hired to help you.
Effective delegation is not as easy as simply assigning a task in the project management software your company uses, though. Follow these 6 steps to make sure you get the best results when delegating tasks to your team.
1. Clarify the task that needs to be done
When you’re delegating tasks, it’s important to be clear about what needs to be done. This means providing specific instructions and outlining the expectations for the task. If the person you’re delegating to isn’t clear about what they need to do, it can lead to frustration and confusion. When clarifying the task, be sure to include:
- What the task is
- When the task is due
- Who is responsible for completing the task (and if any other stakeholders should be involved)
- How you will evaluate success
- How the delegation fits into larger goals
You should also give an opportunity for feedback. This can be as simple as asking, “What do you think?” or “Is there anything I forgot to cover?” “Do you foresee any challenges?”
2. Find the right person for the job
When it comes to delegating tasks, finding the right person for the job is essential. If you delegate a task to someone who isn’t well-suited for it, not only will the task likely not get done properly, but you’ll also end up frustrating both yourself and the person you delegated to.
To find the right person for a given task, first take into account what skills and qualifications are required. Then, consider who on your team has those skills and would be able to complete the task efficiently. For example, if you have a pitch deck presentation that needs to be proofread, you probably wouldn’t ask your junior developer and would likely turn to your copy editor.
3. Make sure they have the necessary skills and knowledge
When you’re delegating tasks, it’s important to make sure that the person you’re delegating to has the necessary skills and knowledge to complete the task. If they don’t, it’s likely that the task won’t be completed properly or on time.
So, before you delegate a task, take a moment to consider whether or not the person has the ability to complete it. If they don’t, either provide them with any training or resources they need or find someone else who can do it.
4. Make sure the deadline is realistic
Setting a deadline is paramount when delegating a task; without one, the person you delegate to may not know how to prioritize it amongst their other work.
- Is the task urgent?
- Should it be completed as quickly as possible?
- Or is it a longer-term project with a flexible deadline?
Whichever end of the spectrum your deadline falls on, make sure it’s realistic and that you have given the person enough time to complete the task.
Even if the task is urgent, make sure you take into account:
- The amount of work involved
- The quality you expect
- The skill level of the person you have assigned it to
This way, you can manage your own expectations and not set your employee up to fail — i.e., don’t assign a highly technical task to a junior employee with a 48-hour deadline and expect very high-quality work.
On the other hand, do expect high-quality work from a senior employee who has had 3 weeks to work on a task.
5. Check in periodically
Even if the deadline is “ASAP”, make sure you check in with your employee to see if there’s anything they need help with or any way you can support them. Some employees (especially new ones) may be afraid to ask for help, and then by the time your deadline arrives, it might be too late.
6. Give (and receive) feedback
Feedback is an essential part of effective delegation. It lets the person know how they’re doing and what areas need improvement. If you’re not providing feedback, then the person may not be aware that they’re not meeting your expectations.
When giving feedback, be specific and objective. For example, instead of saying “you didn’t do a good job,” try “I noticed that you didn’t complete task X.” This will help the person understand what they need to work on without feeling like they’ve been attacked.
Also, you may ask them what hurdles stood in the way of them completing their task adequately, so that you can both work together to avoid them in the future.
Finally, good leaders and effective delegators know that feedback goes two ways. Take the opportunity to find out if there was any way you could have been clearer about your expectations or if you played a part in the misunderstanding. This will help future task delegations be more effective.
What benefits can effective delegation bring to you and your company?
More time for leaders to focus on scaling the business
By delegating tasks to executive assistants, execs can free up their own time to work on strategic initiatives that will help the business grow. This is an effective way to ensure that all aspects of the business are being handled efficiently and effectively.
Take LiveLike CEO and co-founder Miheer Walavalkar. Walavalkar delegated some personal tasks to a remote executive assistant through Headroom so he could re-focus on driving his company forward. These tasks included:
- Taking care of personal finances
- Taking care of his daughter’s lessons
- Changing flight tickets
- Doing research on the best birthday party venues in the city of New York
The biggest game-changer for Walavalkar? “Just not having to deal with the headache of a lot of chores and personal tasks and just remembering things, or remembering to do things.”
We hear you, Miheer!
An empowered team that is less dependent on you
By regularly delegating tasks, you’re giving your team members the opportunity to take on more responsibility and gain new skills. This can help to build their confidence and make them more independent. In turn, this can make your team more effective and efficient, freeing up your time to focus on other tasks. It’s a virtuous cycle!
Eventually, when you have to take a sick day or be away from work for any other reason, you won’t have to worry so much. The nuts and bolts of your business will be able to carry on without you (at least for a short time).
More revenue for your business
Yes, effectively delegating tasks can lead to more revenue for your company. You can ensure that all team members, including yourself, are working on tasks that they are skilled at, and that will help the company reach its goals. That’s maximum productivity!
When it comes to delegating tasks to your executive assistant, the possibilities for increased revenue are even higher. You can save the roughly 28% of your day that you would usually spend on admin tasks doing the creative problem solving your business needs to go to the next level.
In fact, according to a study by Gallup, CEOs who excel in delegating generate 33% higher revenue. This is because they are not only more productive themselves but promote productive delegation habits throughout their company.
Conclusion: Effective delegation is hard but worth it
Now that you know how to delegate tasks, perhaps you want to figure out if you need an executive assistant to delegate those tasks to? We, of course, suggest you start with Headroom’s remote EA service, which offers continuous support in the EU and NA time zones and a network of highly-trained assistants who work 25% more efficiently than regular EAs.