Workspace Manager: Do You Know How To Delegate?

by James McDonald on November 10, 2014

Finding yourself in a position of leadership means having a lot on your plate at any one time. Along with all the projects you must oversee, one of your jobs as a workspace manager is empowering others. This means sharing in your successes (and speed bumps) and knowing when (and how) to delegate responsibilities to those around you. “Remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: when you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.” – Author Unknown

While many of us believe we are good at delegating responsibilities, London Business School Professor John Hunt reveals that approximately 30% of managers feel they delegate well, and of those, only 1 in 3 is considered a good delegator by his/her subordinates. This means only one in ten managers really know how to empower those around them. If you are one of the many that needs to work on your delegation skills, read on for advice on how to strengthen this all-important leadership skill.

The Key Is In Understanding WHY You Don’t Delegate

Have you been called a “control freak” or a “micro-manager” throughout your career? Many of us fall short on this important leadership skill— your first step is to identify why you avoid this responsibility.Why don't FMs delegate more?

So, you are spearheading a big campaign for your company. It is likely that you know this project better than anyone else. Delegating a portion of your project assignments to a colleague means more up-front work for you, as you explain the entire campaign and the details of that particular assignment. Sure, it might take less time to simply do all the work yourself, but consider this:

  1. If you have the ability to lead a campaign, your energies are better spent developing strategies for new campaigns and ironing out the details of the current project. Another wards, examine the situation to ensure you are making best use of your time.
  2. By delegating a portion of your responsibilities to someone else, you are providing them with the skills and knowledge they need for the next project. You’ve empowered both you and them with the confidence to know that, the next time a project comes along, they have what it takes to get the job done.

Knowing When To Delegate

Delegation stands to empower both you and your teammate, but only when done properly. When determining what tasks to assign to your colleagues, consider what needs your attention the most. Obviously, you do not want to delegate tasks that are the most critical or can only be completed by you. Keep items on your to-do list that interest you and that are most appropriately completed by you. Consider these questions in identifying when delegation is most appropriate:

  1. Is this an assignment that someone else can complete?
  2. Will the responsible party gain valuable knowledge and skills from this assignment?
  3. Will a similar task reoccur at a later date?
  4. Do you have enough time to devote to answering questions, providing advice, and monitoring progress? What is the deadline for the project? Is there time for the delegated party to complete the task, with time left over for your review?
  5. Is this task critical to the project’s overall success?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, this could be a great project to delegate. While there is no formula that guarantees success, answering these mission critical questions are a great guideline for delegation. Now, you must choose WHO is the right person to assign this task to.

Choosing The Best Person To Delegate To

As the workspace manager, the success of this campaign rests on your shoulders, regardless of who you involve. So choosing the right parties is critical to your success. But how do you determine who you can trust to devote the time and effort you would devote? This worksheet is a great resource for determining who is the best fit for your current project.

This is when your listening and observation skills come in handy. Identify the work styles of your teammates, their current knowledge and experience on the subject, and their current workload. If you delegate to an individual who has the knowledge and skills, but is already overwhelmed with work, you are setting you both up for failure. Once you have made your choice, take a step back and trust in that person and their skills. And remember, while they may not have the exact same work style as you, you choose them for a reason. Give them the space they need to do the job THEIR way.

How Do You Effectively Delegate?

Once you have made the choice to delegate and chosen who is right for the job, you must properly pass on said responsibilities. This step is as important as the first 3 and proper execution is critical to the project’s success. So how exactly does one effectively delegate?

  • Establish guidelines as to what is expected and clearly define both short and long-term goals for the project.
  • Establish rules regarding boundaries and responsibility. Should they ask before acting? Wait to be told what to do?
  • Delegate responsibilities to match the individual’s authority. Remember, the ultimate outcome rests on your shoulders, so assign tasks accordingly.
  • Be available for support, questions, communication and motivation.
  • Shift your attention to the end result as opposed to focusing on the “how.” Keep in mind that your work style works for you, but may not be right for those around you. Remember that you’re working on shifting away from the micro-management style!
  • Avoid “reverse delegation.” Your teammate is likely heading into unchartered territory with this new project assignment. They may not feel confident in their abilities and many will try to revert the assignment back to you. Support them in any way you can, but do not allow the responsibility to fall back on your shoulders.

Remember, it is not enough to simply identify who to delegate to; you must follow through until the end of the project. Following the simple steps listed above will help ensure your success as you navigate through the delegation process.

Accept Responsibility

Once the job is complete, be sure to spend quality time reviewing the work. Do not accept incomplete assignments or poor quality. While your first reaction may be to fix any issues yourself, you are doing both yourself and your teammates a disservice by doing so. Provide the delegated party with constructive criticism, as well as recognition for good quality. Remember, at the end of the day, part of your job as the workspace manager is to teach and empower and this is a very important part of the process.

Regardless of how large an organization you manage or how many employees you oversee, delegation is an important and valuable part of your job. Management is not just about getting the job done, it’s about leading by example and teaching those around you. This is, however, one task that most managers are uncomfortable with. Where do you rank regarding this valuable management skill? What processes have you adopted to help you become more comfortable with delegating to your peers?


James McDonald

James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.

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