Task Management: How to Delegate Work to Employees
Looking to divvy up everyday tasks among employees? Here are 9 everyday jobs business owners can delegate to employees.
Effective leadership and management is essential to success as companies navigate work-from-home processes and uncertain plans for the future. And effective leadership requires effective decision-making—especially when it comes to how leaders and managers spend their own time.
That time is precious, after all, and needs to be spent wisely. Plus, good managers make sure their teams are always learning by doing—and that requires managers to delegate tasks that help people on their teams grow their skills and expand their aptitudes.
Delegating is an important (if sometimes difficult) thing for managers themselves to learn to do, but it’s essential to both productivity and the professional growth of members of their teams. So long as leaders trust their employees, they can empower those employees to take many tasks off leaders’ plates and expand their skill sets as they do.
Delegating Tasks to Employees: Where to Start
Being effective at delegating doesn’t happen on its own. Some tasks may be more apt for delegation than others. Leaders need to first learn for themselves how to decide what’s worth their time before they can pass tasks along to others.
When thinking about individual tasks and projects, consider the following questions:
- What tasks can only you do?
- As a leader, there are some responsibilities that belong only to you. How and when do you complete these? Are there components of these tasks that you could use assistance with? Who would you trust to help?
- What tasks can someone else do better than you?
- Specialization exists for the right person to do the right job. Who on your team is most knowledgeable about the area of the business this task relates to? What else do they have on their plate, and how does this task fit in?
- What tasks require resources someone else can assemble?
- Sometimes certain team members (such as project managers) have access to resources or relationships that their leaders don’t have. Who can procure the necessary resources most quickly and easily? What help do they need to succeed?
- What tasks don’t add value but must be done?
- Certain to-dos can be done by anyone, which means no one wants to do them. Can these tasks be eliminated or automated? If not, how can responsibility be assigned in a way that’s fair and likely to succeed?
- Who can learn or achieve professional growth from taking ownership of this task?
- This is the most important question for leaders to ask of anything on their plates that doesn’t align to their unit’s long-term goals. Who can benefit from the learning opportunity this task poses to them? What help will they need to succeed?
Keeping Leaders Focused
Even with answers to the above questions, learning how to delegate doesn’t always come naturally. Having a framework for one’s decision-making can help.
One such framework for decision-making—known as the Eisenhower matrix—helps leaders determine how to manage their attention. It posits that the only things to which a leader should apply their immediate attention are those that are both urgent and important. All those things that are important but not urgent should be scheduled to be handled later, and all those things that are urgent but not important should be delegated. (Tasks that are neither important nor urgent should be deleted, if possible.)
The framework is helpful because it compels leaders to 1) learn and understand the difference between urgent and important—which can be easy to confuse—and 2) stay focused on work that aligns with long-term goals (the important stuff).
Meanwhile, it gives employees a chance to stay motivated by working on time-sensitive to-dos (the urgent stuff).
9 Example Tasks
Not all to-dos that must be done are as urgent as others. Tasks that are ripe for delegation include many things that leaders often do themselves, but that take their time away from more significant efforts. Depending on the size of an organization or team, these may include:
- Administrative to-dos such as updating or filing documents
- Scheduling meetings—especially if requires making outreach, as someone else can make the call or send an email on your behalf
- Project management/oversight (with project managers reporting progress up to their supervisors, who intervene when necessary to move things forward)
- Contractor management (or any other efforts requiring overseeing third-party support)
- Accounting and bookkeeping tasks
- Anything involving data entry
- Working with IT support
- Packing and shipping
- Customer service
When it comes to any of these (or other) to-dos, it’s important to make sure they don’t just get delegated but that they also get done. Leaders shouldn’t just delegate a task and move on from it entirely; they should check in with the team member responsible to make sure it’s being handled (and find ways to provide assistance if there are any hiccups keeping it from getting finished).
Help by Delegating
Leaders should always be thinking about how to spend their time wisely, and about who can learn and grow by doing tasks their superiors delegate to them. Delegating tasks and checking in with employees about their progress builds the kind of trust that helps teams navigate uncertain times, and it solidifies the idea that the team is a cohesive unit sharing responsibilities. Most importantly, it keeps leaders focused on what’s urgent and important—which is essential to keeping the team on track toward achieving long-term objectives.