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How Leaders Delegate Important Tasks to Employees

How Leaders Delegate Important Tasks to Employees

When it comes to leadership, there are essentially two types of leaders: those that make sure they are indispensable and those that make sure they are dispensable. Believe it or not, great leaders are those that are always striving to make themselves dispensable rather than indispensable. By making yourself dispensable, great leaders accomplish several things.

  • When crisis hits or something goes wrong, great leaders have a number of people properly groomed and vetted to step in and deal with the crisis other than themselves. This leaves them free to enjoy their evening, their day off or their vacation without being interrupted, knowing things will be handled smoothly and efficiently in their absence.
  • Grooming others to take their place allows great leaders to always be taking on new challenges and accomplishing new tasks – sometimes at the drop of a hat – because they always have people in place that can smoothly and efficiently take over their current responsibilities.

Grooming others to take your place, however, requires delegating the most important tasks to them long before a crisis or emergency hits, so they are amply and adequately prepared to deal with any issues in your stead. There is, however a right way and a wrong way to delegate important tasks. Here are 5 ways to properly delegate important tasks to ensure the tasks you delegate are handled competently and efficiently.

1. Start small and supervise first

Whether it’s training an employee to open or close the business in your absence, prepare payroll, or manage a project from start to finish, you always want to start them off accomplishing smaller tasks under your supervision. If you are training them to close up at the end of the day, you may start off having them count the register and tally receipts or even the more mundane tasks like cleaning up and emptying trash.

If you want them to eventually be able to run an entire project by themselves, start by assigning them a smaller more manageable chunk of the project as a whole. Ultimately, you want them to be capable of accomplishing a large job that entails a long series of smaller tasks, so give them the smaller tasks individually first and build up to the full, larger, more complex job.

2. Set them up for success, not failure

One of the biggest reasons that you want to start people off small is so that they can experience a string of smaller successes that will give them the confidence to believe they can achieve the more complicated tasks you will eventually assign them. As Henry Ford famously said “If you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” Starting them off small helps them gain confidence along the way, so that when the important moments come, they will have the confidence of believing they have the right tools to face them and succeed.

3. Don’t confuse the end goal with the process

If you are delegating tasks to your employees that you yourself do or have done, you probably have a system for doing them that works for you. While there’s nothing wrong with teaching your employees how you do something, you also want to give them some space to develop their own process for doing them. There may be some tasks that absolutely need to be done a certain way because they affect other tasks that come later. If that is the case, make sure and explain to your employees why certain things need to be done a certain way so that they understand how that individual task fits into the whole process.

In the process of explaining, you yourself may realize they don’t actually need to be done that way, that’s just how you prefer them done. However, if you want your employees to eventually take over the entire process, you may want to give them some space to do things a little bit differently to develop a system that works best for them. Most successful people have some level of a controlling nature. This is a good place to evaluate yours and maybe put it in check.

4. Match tasks to skill sets

Every person has a unique skillset that helps them succeed in a certain area. Some people may make great employees because of their fantastic people skills but may not be so great at numbers. Don’t continue to assign accounting tasks to someone that continues to have problems with them, particularly if they do stellar work in another area. On the other hand, you may have an employee that is a computer whiz, but doesn’t socialize well. Do your best to assign your computer whiz any electronic tasks and save face-to-face interactions for your more gregarious employees. While you may, of course, want one person that can cover all of your responsibilities, you may be better off having two or three employees that can work together to cover various aspects of your job – in addition to doing their own work.

5. Encourage them rather than berating them if they fail

As the old Japanese proverb goes “fall seven times, stand up eight.” Invariably, your employees are going to fail at something somewhere along the line – and probably more than once. Just remember, you probably have your fair share of failures under your belt as well. When your employees fail, rather than wasting time berating them for it, help them to instead figure out why they failed.

The hard part about this is that you may discover it wasn’t them that failed, but you, because you assigned them a task you didn’t properly prepare them for or they are genuinely unsuited for. In some cases, however, they simply misunderstood something or were too frightened to ask a crucial question. When your employees fail, don’t punish them by never assigning them an important task again, but help them get back up on the horse instead. Not only will this help you gain the utmost respect and admiration of your employees, it will help you build and develop better employees.