The Art of Delegating for First-Time Supervisors

Today’s administrative assistants often work for multiple people, maybe even an entire department. They’re juggling never-ending deadlines, managing a variety of project commitments and maintaining meeting schedules, to name just a few, all the while prioritizing their own work duties of the day. They’re the gatekeeper and often the lifeline for keeping the office running smoothly and getting things done.

With “mean and lean” operations and the influx of tasks and responsibilities coming in different directions, many administrative assistants have also morphed into a supervisor, a role that affords delegation and, yes, some relief.

The role of a supervisor can be rewarding and fulfilling. It also comes with additional responsibilities and challenges. Not only are administrative assistants managing their own workload, they’re now overseeing other projects, deadlines and tasks from those whom they’ve delegated the work.

 

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”    ~ Ronald Regan

 

Effective delegation is one of the most valuable skills – and among the hardest skill – a supervisor can master. When done successfully, it reduces your workload, develops collaboration and strengthens your communication skills. Delegating prepares fellow team members to handle additional responsibilities and allows you to manage other pressing job responsibilities within your department.

However, without proper training, delegation can be daunting and even a little scary. What if the delegated work isn’t done to my standards? What if the delegated work isn’t completed on time? What if the person refuses to do the delegated work? These are common questions that first-time delegators ask themselves. The bottom line is you wouldn’t be put in a supervisory role if your boss didn’t’ think you can handle it.

The good news is delegation is a learned skill and can be mastered with practice and focus. Effective delegation is a win-win for you, your co-worker completing the work and your organization. It creates ownership and accomplishment. Delegation is an art and when mastered, makes for a productive group of professionals, working together for the end goal: Success!

 

When should you delegate some of your work?

  • After you’ve been in the job long enough to understand what it entails.
  • When you have completed skills and abilities and understand the work capacity other team members can take on.
  • When you understand the value of delegating.

 

What are ways to prepare for delegating?

  • Generate a list of the current job responsibilities you need help to complete.
  • List team members qualified to take over each of these responsibilities.
  • Explain why the job is important.
  • Describe results needed (not how, but what).
  • Give your co-worker the authority they need to do the job.
  • Indicate when the job needs to be completed and get agreement.
  • Ask for feedback to ensure understanding.
  • Establish process for monitoring progress.
  • Recognize team member for helping with task.

 

What tasks should you delegate?

  • Tasks that can be handled adequately by team members.
  • Tasks for which team members have all the information for decision-making.
  • Tasks that don't require skills unique to you or your position.
  • Tasks for which an individual other than you can have direct control.
  • Tasks and/or projects that will contribute to growth and development of the individual who will carry out the assignment.

 

What tasks should you not delegate?

  • The delegation process itself: Any work to be delegated should be delegated and explained by you.
  • Confidential tasks and projects that have been specifically assigned to you by your boss.
  • Complex situations: Don't ask someone else to handle what you don't understand yourself.

 

How do you know whether you are delegating well or not? If you are delegating well…

  • You’re satisfied with the way team members complete work assignments.
  • Team members feel committed and involved and morale is high.

 

If you’re not delegating well, you may see these symptoms:

  • You’re too busy with work and under constant pressure.
  • You’re spending too much time on organizational details.
  • You’ve been bypassed for a promotion because you have difficulty handling your current responsibilities.

 

What tasks should you not delegate?

  • The delegation process itself: Any work to be delegated should be delegated and explained by you.
  • Confidential tasks and projects that have been specifically assigned to you by your boss.
  • Complex situations: Don't ask someone else to handle what you don't understand yourself.

 

How do you know whether you are delegating well or not? If you are delegating well…

  • You’re satisfied with the way team members complete work assignments.
  • Team members feel committed and involved and morale is high.

 

If you’re not delegating well, you may see these symptoms:

  • You’re too busy with work and under constant pressure.
  • You’re spending too much time on organizational details.
  • You’ve been bypassed for a promotion because you have difficulty handling your current responsibilities.

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About the Author: Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.