Most business managers know deep down that delegation will save them time, boost productivity and grant them valuable head space, and yet they can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the responsibility. “It takes too long to teach someone else how to do it, the quality of the work will be reduced, delegating is too stressful.” I’ve heard it all before, but delegation doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Done properly, it could earn you a well deserved day off at no expense to your output, in fact, it might just be the secret to success. Here’s how to master the art of delegation in 5 simple steps:

Step 1. Sort out your priorities

As a business leader, your time is the most valuable so you have to think carefully about how you use it. There’s no point spending days trying to figure out how to use Photoshop when somebody else could do the job more quickly and efficiently. If you struggle with particular tasks or find them uninteresting, delegate to someone else who’s more skilled in that area.

To help me focus my time, I write priority lists numbering everything from 1 to 3 (1 being the most important tasks) and delegate everything that’s not directly impacting the growth of the company. It helps me to stay on track of my goals and drastically improves my productivity as I’m always putting my skills to the best use. 

Step 2. Choose the best person to delegate to 

Spend time getting to know your employees’ specialised skill sets and interests so that you are able to make an informed decision when you delegate a task. Don’t just pick the person who is the least busy as this could damage the quality of the output. For example, whilst my assistant takes responsibility for all of my administrative tasks, I would never ask her to write blog content as this isn’t her area of expertise, which could end up causing her unnecessary stress and waste her time.

If the job you’re delegating needs skills that your team members are lacking, consider outsourcing to a professional or virtual services company.

 Step 3. Provide clear instructions

However, talented the person is, they’re not a mind reader. Be clear about the nature of the task and your expectations, and provide examples where possible. If it’s something they’ve done before, you won’t need to go into so much detail, but it’s still important to ensure they’ve understood what you’re talking about.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The worst thing for productivity is a boss who micromanages” hashtags=”Business, Strategy”]

Step 4. Just let them get on with it

Establish a deadline and keep communication channels open so that your employee knows they can ask questions if they’re struggling, and then leave them to do the job. The worst thing for productivity is a boss who micromanages. If you’ve invested time in recruitment, you should be able to trust in your employees’ skills and dedication.

Remember you’re not the only one who can do the job and as a manager, you’re there to support, not dictate how your employees work. Give them space to learn and correct their own mistakes.

Step 5. Offer constructive feedback

When the task has been completed make sure you show your employee gratitude. Tell them where they excelled and the areas which could be improved. Also, ask them to give you feedback. Did they enjoy the task, do they have any questions, could you have been clearer with your instructions? It’s never easy to give your boss feedback, but employees appreciate the opportunity to voice their opinions. It’s a good way for them to take control of their learning process and helps you to delegate more effectively in the future.

As with all things, delegation gets easier with practice, but don’t make the mistake of adding it to your task list as this will create more stress. It should be integrated into your management process as a way not only of increasing your productivity, but also to assist your staff with career development. Speak to individual members of your team about their goals so that you know which areas they’d like to progress in and the next time you have a task to delegate, you might be able to offer them a valuable opportunity to learn. Approaching delegation in this way also means you will feel less guilty about off-loading responsibility as you know that you are potentially contributing to an employee’s knowledge.

My advice, if you’re still wary, is to start slow by delegating basic tasks such as research and formatting. As you start to experience the benefits first hand, you’ll want to delegate more and more, but be aware that you’re still in control and that the quality of work is continually being improved rather damaged. Of course, there are some things that should never be delegated. Any strategic decisions or tasks, for example, should always be left to you. After all, every company needs a leader.