Delegatedon’T Do – Building An Expert Project Team

Leveraging Expertise Through Strategic Delegation

Delegation is the process of assigning tasks and projects to capable team members in order to utilize their expertise and skills. Effective delegation enables managers to focus on more strategic responsibilities while empowering team members to take on new challenges and develop new competencies. However, improper or overdelegation can lead to frustration, missed objectives, and team disengagement.

This article provides actionable frameworks, techniques, and best practices for delegating work successfully. We’ll cover common delegation pitfalls to avoid, how to identify the right projects and people to delegate to, proven processes for setting clear expectations, as well as management strategies for motivating team members and ensuring delegated tasks get completed thoroughly and on time.

The Overdelegation Problem

While most managers understand the importance of delegation, many overdelegate responsibilities by assigning too many tasks or inappropriate projects to team members. This leads to lackluster work quality, missed deadlines, and frustration for all parties involved.

Common reasons for overdelegation

  • Lack of clarity on team member capabilities
  • Failure to provide adequate support and resources
  • Unreasonable timelines or poorly-defined requirements
  • Micromanagement that hinders actual completion
  • Inappropriate delegation of high-priority or strategically important projects

Risks of overdelegation

  • Subpar quality of work output
  • Missed deadlines and budget overruns
  • Lack of accountability and ownership
  • Team frustration and burnout
  • Reputation damage for the manager and team

Knowing When to Delegate

Determining when to delegate tasks versus handle them personally requires assessing three key factors – project importance, team member skills, and role alignment.

Assessing task importance

The more critical a project is to organizational goals or customers, the more discretion is required in delegation. Managers should retain direct ownership of initiatives that are strategically vital, highly complex, or central to external stakeholder satisfaction.

Considering team member skills

Review individual team members’ abilities, competencies, capacity, and development goals to understand alignment with potential projects for delegation. Tasks should match capability levels while still providing growth opportunities.

Aligning responsibilities

Delegated work should have clear relevance to the designated team member’s job role and responsibilities. While growth assignments may stretch responsibilities, managers should avoid mismatched projects that feel tangential to one’s central position and duties.

Who to Delegate To

Once determining that a project is appropriate for delegation, selecting the right person to assign it to is critical for success. Consider the following factors when identifying delegatees.

Identifying capable candidates

Review past performance, proven competencies, and workload capacity to create a shortlist of team members capable of driving the delegated project to successful outcomes.

Evaluating willingness and bandwidth

Before final delegatee selection, assess chosen candidates’ willingness and availability to take on the additional assignment based on their current priorities and commitments. Unwilling or overloaded team members are unlikely to perform well even if otherwise capable.

Selecting the best fit

Choose the final delegatee based on capability, willingness, and alignment across priority projects and development goals. Clearly define why the person was selected and how the assignment fits their role and growth needs.

How to Delegate Effectively

When delegating a task or project, structured processes for providing background context, requirements, and oversight helps set clear expectations and prevents misalignments down the line. Follow these best practices for effective delegation.

Clearly defining the scope

Document key goals, success metrics, requirements, constraints, stakeholders, available resources and project interfaces for the delegated assignment to eliminate gaps or fuzzy objectives.

Providing appropriate context

Share relevant background on prior initiatives, institutional knowledge, key contacts, and subject matter experts to equip the team member with the information needed to get up to speed quickly.

Setting reasonable deadlines

Create project plans tied to milestones, status checks, and final deadlines that provide structure while allowing flexibility based on progress and roadblocks. Leave reasonable time for quality review before final delivery.

Following up appropriately

Avoid micromanaging, but conduct regular check-ins to provide support, receive updates, review work products, offer feedback, and keep projects on track for on-time, quality outcomes.

Getting the Most Out of Delegation

Delegation provides powerful opportunities to motivate team members, develop skills, and expand organizational capabilities. But managers must delegate intentionally rather than just offloading work to see these benefits.

Encouraging questions and feedback

Solicit delegatee input on project scope, resourcing, deadlines, and information needs. This builds engagement while addressing potential gaps proactively.

Offering guidance, not directives

Guide team members towards optimal approaches without prescribing solutions. This avoids micromanagement while providing mentoring that expands problem-solving skills.

Using delegation to mentor

View delegation as development opportunities. Structure assignments, checkpoints, and reviews to build critical skills and knowledge that fuel delegatees’ career growth.

Avoiding Micromanagement Traps

While appropriate oversight is key, micromanagement can seriously impede delegation outcomes and team member morale. Avoid these traps.

Focusing on outputs not methods

Judge work quality based on whether final outputs meet requirements rather than prescribed processes. Enabledelegatees determine optimal approaches themselves.

Building trust

Take time early on less critical projects to build relationships and establish competence. This earns enough trust for more hands-off delegation as team members prove themselves.

Granting autonomy

Provide complete ownership and decision rights once delegates gain necessary expertise. Be available for advice but resist directing actions.

The Benefits of Strategic Delegation

Done right, delegation unlocks immense value for managers, team members, and the organization overall through increased productivity, skill development, and leadership capacity.

Increased productivity

Delegation frees up managers to tackle more strategic priorities while leveraging additional resources to execute a greater volume of projects faster.

Development of team skills

Challenging, career-advancing delegated assignments build team member capabilities, confidence, leadership skills and mastery of new areas.

More strategic leadership time

With reliable delegates owning day-to-day operations, managers can focus more on long-term planning, innovation, talent development, and other key priorities.

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