Four tips for delegating efficiently at work

Elevating your impact requires you to be both more essential, and less involved

People get excited about what’s possible, but they commit only when they understand their role in making it happen.

People get excited about what’s possible, but they commit only when they understand their role in making it happen.

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One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is shifting from doing to leading. As a new manager you can get away with holding on to work, but sooner or later the toll of shrinking resources and increasing demands will catch up to you.

Elevating your impact requires you to embrace an unavoidable leadership paradox: you need to be more essential and less involved.

To raise the ceiling of your leadership potential, you need to extend your presence through the actions of others. That means delegating. Here are four strategies for doing so effectively:

1. Start with your reasons: when people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to care. But if you give them context about what’s at stake and how they fit into the big picture, you increase personal relevance.

2. Inspire commitment: People get excited about what’s possible, but they commit only when they understand their role in making it happen. Clarify the scope of each employee’s contribution and carefully communicate all expectations.

3. Engage at the right level: It’s essential to stay involved, but the degree matters. You should maintain engagement levels sufficient for you to deliver the agreed-upon mix of support and accountability. Start by simply asking people what the right level of management is based on their style.

4. Practice saying “yes,” “no” and “yes, if”: carefully assess and learn to say “yes” only to those tasks that draw on your talent. For those requests that don’t align with your skill set, you can say “no” or “yes, if …,” immediately identifying other people who can help you accomplish the goal through their direct involvement.

Copyright Harvard Business Review 2017

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