One of the great things about being a manager is that you can delegate various types of tasks to other people instead of having to do them yourself. This may sound like a rather cavalier statement, but it’s true. To do your job as a manager efficiently and effectively, you must delegate various types of tasks to your staff. If you don’t delegate, you will be overworked and your staff will be underutilized. In fact, you do a disservice to your staff if you don’t delegate because this inhibits the staff’s ability to learn new things and grow as professionals.

Like all management activities, delegation must be done in a thoughtful, ethical and forward-thinking manner. To that end, consider the following tips when delegating tasks to your staff, contractors, vendors and others.

1. Clearly define what can and cannot be delegated  — As a manager, be mindful of what should and should not be delegated. For example, specific tasks may contain proprietary information that should not be shared at your staff’s organizational level. There are also tasks that your team members may not be qualified to perform, thus setting them up for failure. Lastly, don’t just dump unwanted activities onto your staff to get them off your plate. Eventually, the team will figure out your plan, and it will hurt your credibility as their manager.

Delegation is a powerful tool to maximize your team’s productivity, enhance their skill set, help them grow professionally and free you to perform higher level tasks. All that being said, make sure that you are delegating the right tasks for the right reasons.

2. Create a prioritized delegation plan — Now, knowing what to delegate, your next step is to develop a plan outlining what tasks should be delegated to each staff member. When determining who gets which tasks, you should consider the following:
•  Who is fully qualified to perform the task;
•  Who could perform the task with proper instruction and mentoring, with the goal of enhancing their skill set;
•  Who should not be given the task because of their professional weaknesses and/or specific political situations/reasons;
•  Who deserves the task based on seniority, past performance and relevant considerations; and,
•  The visibility and importance of the task to your department and/or company.

Delegating the right tasks to the right people is not always easy or popular, but if you do it with transparency, fairness, consistency, and for the good of the company, your staff will learn to respect your decisions.

3. Provide clear instructions and define specific expectations — There is nothing worse than being delegated a task, not given instructions on how the task should be performed, nor told what is expected, working diligently to complete the task, and then being told the result isn’t what was wanted. Give specific instructions as to what needs to be done and your expectation of the ending result. This combination of instructions and expectations provides the correct delegation framework and establishes criteria as to how your employee will be judged when the task is completed.