How to delegate effectively means understanding that delegating tasks and authority is a defining aspect of being a boss, yet personal experience has likely shown you that it’s a skill that many managers lack. Whether it’s a lack of delegation, too much delegation, micromanaging, or putting the wrong people in the wrong places, a failure to properly assign tasks to people can result in a dysfunctional workplace. As the boss of your own workplace, you’ll be responsible for deciding who goes where and who does what. Much of your workplace’s productivity and morale will depend on your ability to not just lead but lead well.
In the initial phases of opening a business, roles and tasks are more likely to be somewhat fluid. Job descriptions and roles will gradually solidify as the business becomes more established and its needs are better understood. Those present for these initial phases will likely be very adept and self-motivated, given the environment that they have had to survive in. You know what their personalities are like, and you know what they do and don’t excel at. Newer hires who are being trained for a more specific role will not have the benefit of that experience, and so being able to delegate tasks to these people will depend on a number of other factors beyond what they were specifically trained for.
If you’re uncertain of how to delegate employees at times where they’ll have to move outside of their specific role, there are a few points that you can follow to best match the right person with the right job.
1) Aces in their places
You want your employees to be well-trained in every aspect of the job. But when business is intense and you’re facing a massive rush, you aren’t going to put a person in a position they are slower at just to help them get better at it. No, you drag your star workers out and put them in the spots they are the very best at. Save practice for later – assign the workers you know are best at a certain task for that job, and keep them there for as long as needed. It’s important to rotate tasks as the business demands it, but treat your peak business hours as differently as you need to. Most customer service jobs operate this way – they have a completely pre-set arrangement for delegation just for peak hours of business.
2) Match personality types to the job
If you are the owner or manager of a larger business with many different job roles, finding the best people for the job may prove to be a bit more difficult. If you’re delegating a certain task to a person, it helps to align the job with what you know they can adapt to better. A high-pressure sales job is a better fit for a boisterous extroverted person, whereas a desk job squared away in an isolated office is a better fit for a quiet, withdrawn person.
Some corporations take this further and use personality tests to screen applicants before they are ever hired for the job. While they do help reduce turnover, keep in mind that such a test says nothing about a person’s competence, temperament, or ability to adapt. A person’s general personality profile does not control their ability to learn and grow into a certain role; you might be surprised at how many people working in sales jobs are introverted. Personality is a good starting point, but allowing it to be the sole determining factor in hiring somebody will cause you to lose out on a lot of talent.
3) Keep the right distance
Finding the right balance between too much oversight and too little is an art form that takes years to develop. Each person is different, and each job has different demands. As a general rule, people prefer more autonomy than less; micromanaging a person is infantilizing and insulting, and it suggests that they can’t be trusted to perform the most basic tasks. But conversely, most people that work under you cannot be left to their own devices without some form of supervision.
An important part of delegation is knowing how to delegate. You can’t perform everything by yourself, and that’s going to require you to place trust in your employees to do their jobs without you watching them. As you become more comfortable with your team, you’ll get a better sense of what they are like and how well they perform at different tasks. Assume positive intent and allow them some degree of freedom, but make sure to tighten the reins when needed.