3 Delegation Best Practices for First Time Managers


Often times we avoid certain conversations not because we don't want to, but rather, because we don't know how to. As a new manager, a conversation that you need to have with your direct reports is the development conversation. Those you lead are now looking to you to help get them to their next step.

A common misunderstanding among leaders is that delegating is about giving away tasks you don't want to do. The delegation conversation is really a development conversation and understanding how to communicate what is expected, who owns what, and where you want to see members of your team grow. When leaders delegate effectively, they are looking at what responsibilities are no longer the best use of their time and what skill gaps on their team can be closed.

Below are three best practices to support you in having those delegation conversations.

#1: Manage Your To Do List

The first step for you as a new manager is to look at your to-do list. Chances are there are still some things you're holding onto because either you love doing it, no one else knows how, or you don't trust anyone to do it correctly. No matter what, if this job is not central to achieving your goals or supporting your team, it is no longer the best use of your time. Write down what these different responsibilities are and begin to identify who you can delegate it to. Also look at the amount of time you save by letting someone else take ownership and now ask yourself: What can you do with that time?

#2: Create a Common Language

The second step is to have the conversation with your direct reports, share that you want to delegate some new responsibilities, and see if their is a mutual interest. In the Fierce Delegation model we use the analogy of a tree to represent the four levels you can delegate a project: leaf, branch, trunk, and root. These levels help give a common language to teams so that everyone has a mutual understanding of the decision making process on any given project. Having a defined language is important because oftentimes when we delegate there can be misunderstanding about what projects your direct report needs to keep you in the loop on and what responsibilities they can act on autonomously.

#3: Help Your Team Partner

As a new leader it can be tempting to want to be everything to everyone, and the reality is that it is not sustainable. Have your team create accountability partners to keep each other on-track about things like time-management and deadlines. The reality is that when you delegate new responsibilities, those you lead will need to look at how they manage their schedules.  Encourage them to create check-ins with one another and to share their progress - you might even free up more time for yourself.

Are you new to being a people leader? How do you delegate?

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