Now that you have the attention of the employees, you need to learn how to best choose the tasks they shall complete during a day, a shift, or a year. Delegation can be something that makes new managers a little nervous, as they want to delegate fairly – but also in a way that allows them to reach their goals.
You can learn how to delegate properly, by learning who your team is, and how they can help you each day.
If you're going to assign a task to someone in your company, you need to learn who the best person for the job might be. You need to know what the employees of your company are able to do, and what they are unable to do.
The more you learn about what a person does, the better for everyone, and the more easily you can see where you might need a new staff member or where a position might be redundant.
To find out what your employees do:
- Read their job descriptions. Your employees should have a job description on file, one they may have read before they applied for their current job. If not, then you need to talk to your hiring department about creating these so it's clear what people do in their roles.
- Talk with their managers. You can also talk to the direct supervisors of the employees (if that isn't you) to see what everyone does on a daily basis. Find out, too, what special projects the employees may have been involved in so you can get a wider sense of their potential.
- Review their applications/resumes. It can also help to review the application or resume of each employee to see what the employee thinks is important to know about them. You can also use these documents to determine what made the employees interesting to the hiring manager.
- Talk to the staff members individually. In the beginning of your management, and if you're new to the company, it can be even more helpful to talk to each staff member about what they do and what they can do. You may discover talents and passions that will help encourage even more success in your company.
The more you can know about your team, the more effective you will be in delegating responsibility. After all, as soon as you know what people are already able to do, the more easily you can match them up with suitable assignments.
To assign tasks and responsibilities, you can begin with a plan of what you need done and also the skills necessary to complete those tasks. This is the route to take if you're directly assigning tasks to your team members.
If you're upper management, then you may do the same, but you will explain these tasks to the supervisors. Then, they will pass down the information to their subordinates.
Is it really that simple? Not quite.
Once you have determined what you need and answered any questions that may have arisen as a result, you need to do a bit more.
- Create a plan. It can't be stated enough that you need to have a plan before you start assigning responsibilities to everyone. And it's true that you may not know exactly how things need to be done, so have some flexibility in your instruction, or have a goal that needs to be reached in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
- Identify resources needed. From there, you can determine the resources you need, or you can hear from the employees about the resources they feel they need. Gather those ahead of time to ensure the project or assignment can proceed immediately.
- Set a deadline. To help expedite the process (especially when time is relevant), create a deadline that will allow enough time for the staff member to reach their goals, with some extra time to account for unforeseen issues or problems.
- Establish check-in points. During the course of an assignment (especially a long one), it can be helpful to have points at which the team member will check in with a manager or with you. These meetings or emails will show the progress that has been made, and it will also help you learn more about any problems that may have arisen.
- Determine risk and potential problems. Ideally, you would be able to forecast potential problems, but since this isn't always possible, it's best to at least come up with the most common issues before the project begins. In doing so, you will be able to have a plan in place to resolve the issues and move the assignment along.
You may also want to think about assigning responsibilities based on other factors in the team:
- Deadlines – As you get to know your team and how they function, you will begin to see who is most likely to reach their deadlines on time, and which people may like more fluid timelines. Both of these employees can be valuable to you, but not for every assignment.
- Workloads – Consider, too, how much work each person on your team is already working on. While you may not be able to assign projects to the person with the most free time, consider how the team members are already managing their projects.
- History of success – You will also want to think about who you can rely upon when it comes to difficult projects or assignments. If there is someone who is most reliable, they are who should get the assignment before anyone else, even if they're already working hard.
In the end, you will find that certain team members are best for certain projects and assignments. At the same time, it's worth considering when you may try to challenge someone on your team who may not have the experience others do.
When you challenge someone, they may rise to the occasion, and they may add another skill to their professional experience.
Sometimes, you need to change what you have already assigned to someone. This might happen for a number of reasons:
- The other boss/client/customer/vendor changed their mind.
- The timeline has changed.
- The goal has changed.
When the assignment or project has changed, it's crucial you communicate this change to your team as soon as possible. If you can do this, the project or assignment can be reworked quickly, without causing an interruption to its progress.
The best way to communicate changes is to follow this process:
- Know what needs to be changed. When communicating change, be clear about what needs to be changed, and how it needs to be changed. Get an idea in your head about what the current process is and what will need to shift.
- Offer support. You will want to make sure you allow yourself to be available during the assignment if it's a dramatic or time-sensitive change. In doing so, you will be able to smooth the transition of one assignment to another.
- Offer resources. If needed, you can also offer resources that will help to support the changes that need to take place. Instead of spending more time on finding the new resources, gather those before you communicate the new responsibilities to your team member.
- Renegotiate the timeline, if needed. Sometimes, a new task or project will require the team member to start over, which will take up more time and will require a longer timeline. Of course, there will be times when this shift in timeline isn't possible, so clearly communicate that, if that's the situation.
- Talk in person. Whenever possible, especially if the change is significant, you should talk to the team member in person. This will help them better understand the changes and allow them to ask you questions immediately. Talking in person will also help to ensure your management reputation is one of support, rather than simply giving out orders.
Changes may need to happen on a frequent basis, depending on your industry and its needs. The more you can be ready and able to communicate the changes, the more you can make these changes as painless as possible
Every company has times when things are difficult or challenging. It's not always going to be easy, and sometimes you will need to manage the responsibilities of your team during turbulent times.
To do this effectively, it can help to remember:
- Your long-term goals – Think about the company's goals and how you can make changes that will support the direction of the company. It can also help to remind your team of the larger goals in case they have troubles remembering what is important.
- Your team – Even though things are tough and you are counting on your team to adjust, you need to remember they can only do as much as they can do. Remember that people want recognition and praise, especially as they are working harder, or in a different way.
- Your own ability – Consider what you can do when things are transitioning from one system to another. Think about how you might be able to step in and help out.
- The business' systems – If you notice that your company has to change the way it does things on a more regular basis than you might like, you need to look at the bigger systems of your company. Think about what you could change as a manager to make the overall systems better.
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