For many managers at smaller and medium-sized firms, the jack-of-all-trades role is like second nature. When there are only a few high-ranking decision-makers on staff, it stands to reason that managers are at risk of getting tasked to the max. Now that many companies are facing uncertain economic conditions, it’s likely that the productivity demands on most managers will become even more pronounced.
If you’re a manager with a lot on your plate, it can be very tough to prioritize and cut through your tasks and responsibilities to create a semblance of order. Sometimes, it can feel like there are just not enough hours in the day. But with a little ingenuity and a willingness to test your team’s mettle, it may be possible to carve a path through the tangle of tasks on your to-do list and end each day with a feeling of accomplishment and a job well done.
So, what’s the secret of success for overworked managers at small firms? Effective delegation. It’s up to you to assess your ongoing and emerging tasks and responsibilities, size up your staff, and pass off anything that you’re reasonably sure they can handle.
Ready to trim back your daily must-dos and hand some of your responsibilities over to your team members? Consider these tips to help you get the most out of your staff.
Start small. When you first begin delegating tasks to your team, begin with small-scale, simple, and self-contained projects. Then, after your subordinates each have a few successfully completed assignments under their belts, begin gradually to increase the level of responsibility of the tasks you’re willing to delegate. By taking it slow, you’ll build up your team’s confidence and problem-solving skills – as well as your own comfort level with the delegation process.
Become an expert at split-second risk management. One important part of delegating successfully is learning how to determine which tasks are suitable for passing off to your team, and which you’re better off handling yourself. Try to train yourself to assess each project in terms of complexity, criticality, and risk, and then make a delegation decision based on this evaluation.
Communicate desired outcomes clearly. The best way to ensure that delegated projects will come off without a hitch is to spell out the results you’re looking for in crystal-clear terms. The less ambiguity there is surrounding the desired outcome, the more likely you are to be happy with your employees’ efforts.
Empower your staff to get the job done right. One common mistake that managers make is attempting to delegate tasks without allowing their staff members enough leeway and decision-making power to follow through. You can get around this roadblock by starting small, with low-risk tasks, and then gradually granting employees more latitude as they earn it with excellent results.
Touch base after project completion. After each delegated project or task is completed, sit down with your team and perform a postmortem, discussing what went wrong, what went right, and how you’ll carry these lessons forward to the next delegated project. As your team gets into the swing of carrying out delegated tasks, you can gradually cut back on the frequency of these meetings.
Do you consider yourself to be a good delegator, or do you tend to try to take on too much? What are your favorite tips for trimming down your managerial to-do list? Tell us what you think in the comments.