Delegation is the process of giving up control and empowering others. If you don’t do it yourself, how can you be sure someone else will do it to your standard? If you delegate, you might also need to let people do a task differently than you would yourself. They might try and possibly fail. But if you don’t delegate, you end up spreading yourself so thin that your quality level drops anyway. It’s a dilemma.
Helping your clients learn to delegate better
Your coaching clients may not always initially identify delegating as one of their goals, but if they are busy, stressed out, and feeling that others aren’t doing their share, delegation is certainly a topic to discuss.
Plus in the long-range—it’s one of the most strategic ways of developing others. Whenever your client delegates, they are giving someone else the opportunity to develop and grow.
As a coach, you can help them be intentional about what to delegate and to whom. They shouldn’t delegate only when they are feeling desperate or in over their heads. They also shouldn’t only delegate items they don’t want to do. But in order to be strategic, encourage them to consider delegating tasks aligned with other people’s potential giftedness and calling. What could help them accomplish more and develop someone else’s skills simultaneously?
8 Keys to Successful Delegation
1. Foster Willingness
This first step can be a doozy. It’s common to know there is a need to delegate and feel like there is not enough time to develop someone who can do the task right. It takes some reflection on the big picture to develop willingness to delegate. What it comes down to is what could be accomplished if you weren’t weighed down by tasks that drain you. Rehearsing the big picture goal can renew passion for growth and put the need for delegation into the right perspective.
Any successful person soon finds themselves with more work than what can be done by one person. Yet too many of us try to do it anyway, thinking we are the only one who can. The truth is, God never intended us to do everything on our own, and delegation provides the solution. As we develop others, we also increase the overall capacity of our ministry. What ministry has more capacity for doing good– that with one person working or that with three people working? As we expand, so can we serve.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Luke 10:1-2
2. “What” to delegate
Complete an assessment of current responsibilities and identify a list of some specific tasks that could delegated. Then ask:
- Which tasks leave you feeling drained?
- Which tasks could be better done by someone else?
- What could be used to help someone else develop a new skill?
- What are the things that only you can do?
3. The “Who” is important
Now ask them to consider the people they would like to develop and help grow.
- Who might really benefit from this assignment?
- Who might be good at this task?
- Who has the time, energy, and willingness to take it on and really learn from it?
When they have identified an individual, they can initiate a conversation to gauge that person’s level of interest. They can state clearly what needs to be done, and make sure the other person understands.
4. Release the “How”
The person being developed, although they may require support of some kind, must be allowed to decide how they think the task should be done.
The key thing to remember here is that you aren’t doing this project anymore. Different people go about things in different ways and that is okay. They need to be allowed to develop their own way of getting it done.
5. Give away responsibility and authority
Delegation works best when people are empowered to take true ownership of the task: having both responsibility and authority. It’s important to communicate that “this is now on your plate and I trust you to do what it takes to get it done. I look forward to seeing the results.”
6. Provide resourcing and encouragement
It’s completely appropriate to leave your door open for questions. You did this task well and can connect them to resources that can help them along the way–but try to wait to be asked! It’s also okay to check in now and then and offer an encouraging word.
7. Don’t micromanage
Things not going as planned? Are they going about it in a completely different way than you did? Take a deep breath and a step back. Remember you chose a trusted and capable person for the task.
8. Turn failures into learning experiences.
Then, after the task has been accomplished it’s time to meet with the person who did the work to help them process their experience. Follow up conversations are crucial for developing skills in others. Often people’s missteps provide essential wisdom for their future ministry—don’t let anyone miss out on that. End by talking about what God is calling them toward next.
- How did they learn and grow from the experience?
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- What did they learn?
In this way, you have not only helped your client delegate some of their own tasks, but you have coached them toward helping develop others. Now that’s a Kingdom contribution.
If you encounter clients struggling to develop others we have a resource that will help! The Developing Others Leadership Skills Guide includes a written introduction, teaching points, scripture passages and reflection, and discussion questions for topics including identifying potential leaders, recruiting leaders and workers, training leaders and workers, deploying leaders and workers: releasing new leaders into areas of responsibility and challenge, monitoring leaders and workers, and nurturing leaders and workers.
Need a more structured way to help build delegation skills in your clients? The Effective Delegation Coaching Guide and Storyboard provides a way to move through effective delegation competencies in a sensible and cohesive way.