The Art of Delegating

For emerging leaders, the shift from doing to leading is one of the most difficult transitions to make. But learning to delegate is the best way to keep your business running smoothly and avoid manager burnout. “If you’re the only one doing the work, then you can’t be the one managing the work,” said Al Tong, chief technology officer for Pacific Coast Fruit Co.

Effective delegation empowers employees and improves performance. For growing businesses, delegating is the most crucial first step in leadership management, Tong said.

At the October MAP Alliance forum, Tong showed listeners how to change their thinking to systematize accountability and yield predictable results. He described five stages of delegation:

  1. Realization = I do

Define your process. What is the task you want done and how do you go about completing it?

  • Observation = I do, you watch

Create a visual management tool to map your process. Can someone replicate your process from following clearly mapped instructions?

  • Collaboration = We do

Set the tone for specific expectations. What quality, quantity and time should it take to complete this task? Are they reasonable?

  • Evaluation = You do, I watch

Step back and observe. Is the task being completed efficiently and effectively? This will give you peace of mind for the next stage.

  • Delegation = You do

Trust your employees. By now, you should feel confident that the task is being completed to company standards.

Once you reach the delegation stage, you will be able to focus on bigger picture needs like growing and scaling the company. To determine who is doing what, Tong recommends using the R.A.C.I. method:

R – Responsible: Who is doing the task? Who is assigned to do the work?

A – Accountable: Who is accountable for the success and failure? Who has authority to make decisions?

C – Consulted: Who is the subject matter expert? There should be two-way communication between the expert and the person completing the task.

I – Informed: Who is updated on progress and completion? There should be one-way communication so everyone remains on the same page.

“Your time is critical,” said Tong. “Don’t let people waste your time, but more importantly, don’t waste your own time. In order to grow, you have to delegate.”

Want to learn more about the art of delegating? Tong recommends these resources:

  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
  • Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it by Michael E. Gerber
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Start with Why TedTalk by Simon Sinek

Originally published on WSU Vancouver Business Department webpage