Most project managers would say there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything the job requires, PMs who are under constant pressure to do more and are working 50 hour weeks to do their jobs well. Project management is a complex process.
To manage the demands of the job, project managers should skill up in using delegation. PMs who learn to delegate work load effectively will restore their work balance and have more free time to focus on the important tasks. If you find yourself reluctant to let go or if you are stuck believing it must be done by you to be done right, the following 5 tips are for you.
- Start Small - If delegation is new to you, it is best to start with a simple and somewhat small task. Don’t delegate an important, time-sensitive or complex project item just to get it off your plate. Select a task that has a clear project scope that you can clearly define and measure. Basically delegate the easy stuff to start.
- Choose well - Once you have chosen a project, task or milestone to delegate, select the right person for the job. Most importantly select someone you are confident has the skills needed to complete the task, and if possible, someone who’s skills or interests align to the task at hand. Knowing the strengths of team members can help you match employees with tasks for maximum success.
- Teach - Once you have your task and delegate selected, make sure you communicate the task and expectation to them clearly. Think through how you will explain the project or task and what tools you might utilize to teach your team member how you normally approach the task. Can you write down the steps you would take as guide? Should you take the time to show them how to accomplish the task? What tips, tricks and tools do you use? Can you create a template that can be used each time you delegate? In essence, think like a teacher and take the time to deliver a solid lesson.
- Let go (but not completely) - One of the most important keys to good delegation is knowing how to be available to help if needed but not to micro-manage. Once a task has been delegated to an employee or team member it is theirs to complete. This is often the hardest step to learn and one that takes the most practice. You will need to continually remind yourself to let go and to allow others to step in. Be prepared that your team member may not tackle the task in the same way you would. Be flexible and supportive to their process.
- It is simple, not easy - It is imperative that you expect delegation to be a bit painful at first. Just like any new skill, it takes time to master delegation. Plan for growing pains, frustrations and even set-backs along the way. It most likely may even feel like more work initially. Don’t give up too soon and remember that delegation will help you in the long-term if you can master the art, and that it does get easier with practice.
What is your experience and what advice can you dispense about delegating your work load? Please share in the comments section below.
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