Helping Everyone: Four Tips for Delegating Without Hurting Team Productivity

“You may think it is a waste of time to delegate because you feel you can do a better job. But no matter how good you are, you will need your team’s help to get things done effectively on a consistent basis.” – Deena Anreise, American business writer.

We all know that delegation is one of the most effective ways to boost your productivity and succeed in your job, whether you’re an executive, manager, or non-supervisory team member. Well, we should know this, but when we get caught up in the hustle, it’s hard to remember the rules of engagement for the business world.

Delegation requires careful handling to achieve true effectiveness. Thoughtless or unwise delegation can hurt team productivity, if for no other reason than that the fabric of interpersonal trust holding together a team can easily tear if overlooked. Equally as dangerous, giving a task to another team member might improve your personal productivity but either result in no net change for team productivity, or cause team productivity to drop if the delegate can’t handle the extra work.

So, before you start delegating your work to others, think carefully about how to go about it:

  1. Ask your team leader first. If you’re not the team lead, don’t just hand a task to another team member, especially if you’re not certain he or she can take it on. Someone may have too much on their plate already. Arrange a meeting with your manager and ask what tasks and to whom you can delegate.

  2. Ask the intended delegate if they have room for the task. This follows naturally from the previous point. Team leader or not, check to see if your intended delegate has space in his or her schedule for more work, without expanding it beyond normal parameters. Giving someone some of your work just so you can pare your schedule down to a reasonable length is neither ethical nor fair, if it lengthens someone else’s schedule beyond reasonable or safe parameters. The result? Lower team productivity.

  3. Delegate the task to the right person. No two people are equally competent at every task. Multiple this by the number of people in your team, and you end up with a wide range of competence to consider. Therefore, when you need to delegate a task to a team member, study their ability profiles first. Someone will obviously have better qualifications for a specific task or the experience to do it better than others on the team. Pick them if they have the space on their roster. Don’t push the task off on just anyone, unless you have no option other than “sink or swim.”

  4. Delegate outside the team if you can. Does it matter if someone outside the team does the task? If not, consider the possibility of outsourcing. You may have the ultimate responsibility for the task, but use of a contractor or intern may provide a quick fix without damaging your team’s productivity. In fact, it’s a good way to boost your team’s productivity. When you hire someone else to do your team’s equivalent of sweeping the floor, washing the windows, or mowing the lawn, you all profit—your team and the outsiders alike.

Stop taking on more and more tasks—especially those you shouldn’t do in the first place. Practice saying “no,” so other team members don’t push work on you that you can’t handle. Be firm and push back if necessary to protect your boundaries. It doesn’t just help you, it helps everyone.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

© 2019 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored eight books, including FASTER TOGETHER: Accelerating Your Team’s Productivity (Berrett-Koehler 2018). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and a member of its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, call 303-471-7401 or contact us online.

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