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Employee Development: the secret key to successful delegation

Delegation is a crucial aspect of effective leadership and management. Put simply, delegation involves assigning tasks and responsibilities to other team members, while still maintaining overall control and accountability for the outcome. By delegating tasks, leaders can free up their time and energy to focus on higher-level strategic activities, while also providing growth opportunities for their team members.

Why is delegation important?

Delegation is important for several reasons. First, it helps leaders to leverage the strengths and expertise of their team members. By delegating tasks to those who are best equipped to handle them, leaders can ensure that tasks are completed to a high standard, and that their team members are able to develop and showcase their skills.

Second, delegation can help to increase productivity and efficiency within an organization. When leaders are able to delegate tasks effectively, they are able to prioritize their workload and focus on the tasks that require their unique skill set. This, in turn, allows other team members to take on tasks that are more aligned with their strengths and interests, leading to increased motivation and engagement.

Finally, delegation can help to build trust and confidence within a team. When leaders delegate tasks to their team members, they are demonstrating that they trust their abilities and judgment. This can lead to increased feelings of empowerment and engagement among team members, and can ultimately help to build a stronger, more cohesive team.

Tying delegation to development is a key delegation secret that you will not read about in leadership books.

Despite all of the positives mentioned above, delegation can be difficult, especially for newer leaders. Quite often, leaders take on tasks themselves instead of delegating because they feel guilty about “dumping” tasks on their team members. Also, some team members (typically those without the right mindset) show resentment toward or resist delegation.

A few years ago, I stumbled on to something that blew my mind: delegation tied to developmental goals is typically accepted like a gift by the employee. This requires leaders to engage in a full development planning process with employees (something that I will get into in a later article). The development system that I’ve developed for my teams involves: long-term goal setting (3, 5, and 10 year); short-term goal setting (1 year); next-level position requirements research (i.e., figuring out what the actual requirements are for the next position that the employee desires); and (4) creating an honest gap analysis comparing the employee’s current experience and skills to the experience and skills required for the next level position. I’ve found that the gap analysis is key to delegation.

Delegation tied to developmental goals is typically accepted like a gift by the employee

Here’s the magic.

After my team members complete their gap analysis as part of the career development plan, I hang a copy of each gap analysis near my desk for quick access. As projects and tasks come to me (and they do constantly), I look over the employees’ gap analysis to figure out which employee needs experience in the area of the task or project. With that, I am able to easily delegate the task to the employee by explaining how the task fits a developmental need that they identified on their gap analysis. With this connection, there is no guilt and the employee typically accepts the assignment with excitement and a thank you instead of dread.

This process can also be leveraged a bit further. If I have a fairly complex project, I might look over the gap analysis to figure out who is experienced in the area and who is in need of experience in the area. I will then team these two employees together asking the employee with experience to mentor the employee in need of experience. Again, this is typically viewed in a positive light: one employee receives subject matter experience while the other gains leadership experience.

Try this approach next time you have something to delegate — I find it to be absolute magic. Also, if you don’t have employee development plans in place for your team, this is a great excuse to start that process as well.

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