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Leverage your time through delegation


Are you the only person who's qualified to do a particular task? If you think you are, you may be missing an opportunity to leverage your time. Management is all about working through individuals and groups to accomplish organizational goals and objectives. That means delegation. But many managers stubbornly never delegate. They'll claim that there isn't enough time to train someone to do it. Or they'll say their employees aren't ready for new tasks yet or that the last time they delegated, the person didn't do a good job.

If you find yourself using these excuses, ask yourself this: Do you enjoy challenging new assignments and increased opportunities? If you answered yes, chances are your employees would answer yes, too. They look forward to new responsibilities. So don't hold back from delegating.

Though it may sound contradictory, you should delegate the routine activities that you don't want to delegate; fact-finding, preparation of reports, problem analysis, collection of data, and making travel arrangements. Don't hold on to activities just because you like doing them or have special skills. Managers who believe this are generally surprised at how much others will contribute when given an opportunity.

Always create a plan to delegate rather than giving out assignments haphazardly. If you weren't around, which projects would someone else do? Make sure that tasks are delegated to the right people and that you communicate what's required. Delegate, don't abdicate.

Invest short-term time in training to gain a long-term increase in productivity. Delegation is an investment in your own future, as well as in your team's future. It takes time to prepare assignments, to communicate them to others and to train subordinates. But the long-term payoffs are better use of your time and a stronger organization.

The standards for successful completion of tasks must be clear. It's your job to identify the quality level, timelines and input from others required. It's the delegate's job to determine how to meet the standards. So outline the desired results, not the methodology. Your subordinates will find a way to achieve the objective, and they may end up doing a better job than you.

Be sure to delegate the authority along with the responsibility. Then, when your assignee is ready to go, ask them to clarify the assignment and the objectives. Finish with one last question. "Is there anything else you need from me to get started?" They'll tell you if they need more guidance or additional resources. Then, trust them to do well, and don't look over their shoulders or check up on them along the way. Instead, ask them to provide regular updates, and let them know you're available for guidance. They'll ask for help when they need it.

When the job is done, reward people for successfully completing their assignments through praise, announcements, newsletters, awards and additional responsibility. Your time is worth it.

Mark Ellwood is a productivity consultant dedicated to improving people and processes through consulting, training and facilitation. Reach him at mark@GetMoreDone.com or www.getmoredone.com.

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