Multiply Your Time—Five Steps to Effective Delegation

By Ron Price

The challenges of self-management for leaders are by far greater today than they have ever been because of the way that technology has turned us into a 24-7 world. This factor combined with globalization has made managers responsible for a scope of work that goes far beyond their time zone and far beyond the past expectations we’ve put on leaders.

We think about self-management as being time management, but the fact is that time is nonnegotiable. It keeps ticking and we can’t change time in our own lives. There is only one way we can multiply time, and that is by becoming effective at delegation.

There is a big difference between delegating and dumping. Dumping your tasks on someone says, “I’m stressed; I don’t want to take care of this. I’m just going to hand it to you and forget about it.” This isn’t a very collaborative way to get work done, and it doesn’t invite engagement, trust or high-quality work.

By contrast, delegation says, “I believe that by us working together as a team, you can do a better job of spearheading this task than I can, so I’m asking you to be a part of my team for this particular project. I believe that we can get a better result together.”

If you can implement delegating in a way that is mutually beneficial to both yourself and others, you will have the capacity to multiply your hours. If you can master effective delegation, you are limited only by your ability to select and partner with people who will do a great job for you while also using the partnership for fulfillment and to advance their abilities.

Tips for Effective Delegation

  1. Define the task clearly. Ambiguity surrounding what it is you’re asking for only leads to disappointment on both sides of the table. It’s important to determine the timeline, how you will measure completion, and how the task fits into the bigger picture. 
  2. Provide resources. Your partners can only be successful if they have the means to complete it. Make sure you are giving them the appropriate amount of resources to achieve that goal. 
  3. Check in regularly. Develop a calendar of consistent and timely feedback with the person to see what kind of progress they’re making and determine how you might need to adjust the project. 
  4. Communicate value. Take time to reinforce the human connection with partners so that they feel valued as both an important member of your team and as a human being. These interactions with ensure that they don’t feel used, and that they understand how much you appreciate the role they are playing.
  5. Review the results together. The US Army calls it an AAR: After Action Review.  What is working well in your delegation? What have you learned about new gains in self-management? And finally, give recognition to the members of your self-management team.  

It’s impossible to do a good job of self-management by yourself. This may seem counterintuitive to the definition of self-management, but in today’s world self-management is a team activity instead of an individual activity. Sometimes that means you’re part of someone else’s team and helping them with their self-management, and sometimes that means other people are helping you. We must all see one another as part of a team—your colleagues, your peers, your employees, your superiors—when it comes to self-management.