Four Rules for Effective DelegationA topic of conversation pretty frequently in my Vistage meetings is delegation. Business leaders of all sized companies ask, "How do I know when it’s time to give up something? How do I know what is the best use of my own time vs. someone else’s? How do I hand over tasks without feeling like it’s not going to get screwed up?"

It’s a conundrum. Most of us would love to delegate a good number of our day-to-day tasks. But it doesn’t always work out so well.

Ted Roden, founder and CEO of Fancy Hands, a personal-assistant service, says it’s partly our fault because we don’t give enough information when delegating.

How to Effectively Delegate

Here some ways he suggests for effective delegation:

  • The first rule of thumb is to acknowledge those helping or working for you are not mind readers. If you have specific wants, you must articulate them up front. Roden uses the example of booking travel, which for many can be a ridiculously mundane task, yet very personal at the same time. If you prefer to sit closer to the front of the plane and in a window seat, make sure the person assisting you is made aware. This will alleviate the potential for any upset or disappointment.
  • The second rule of thumb is to be realistic about what you’re delegating and not to delegate too much. Roden argues you can avoid checking-in often with the person assisting you by delegating smaller tasks. He suggests if you are working on a larger project, then it might be worthwhile to agree on a mutual status update meeting.
  • Thirdly, Roden suggests you focus on the aspects of your job only you can do and delegate the other “stuff.” By focusing on these aspects you will have greater success completing what is required of you.
  • The fourth rule of thumb goes hand-in-hand with the first three in that you don’t want to find yourself micromanaging. Make sure you give the person assisting you enough information to complete the task successfully. It is fine to give them deadlines, but don’t tell them how to do their job. Allow them to do what they need to do on their own terms.

And finally, never lose faith. As previously mentioned, delegating is very difficult to do. There is truly an art to it and will take some getting use to. Rough patches are to be expected, so just be sure to keep the lines of communication open and never be afraid to ask for help.

What tips do you have for effective delegation?