By Debbie De Grote
Why do agents have a hard time delegating effectively? The main reason appears to be that agents do not want to relinquish control. Some agents are afraid to allow anyone to assist them out of fear that the client will not be treated properly or the paperwork will not be done according to their standards. In other words, the agent feels certain they can do the work better and they have to protect themselves from the possibility that mistakes may occur.
Another reason agents do not delegate effectively is that they underestimate how much up-front effort is required. They do not take the time to give clear and concise instructions and follow-up. After all, agents are salespeople and not teachers. Therefore, they may not be able to properly communicate how to do some task. Instead, they think, "Oh, never mind. By the time I tell you how to do it, I can do it myself and get it right the first time."
This creates a scenario that is almost sure to fail, because either the task never gets done, or the agent unnecessarily continues performing the task.
Why Is Delegation Necessary?
Whenever you work independently, there are limits to what you can accomplish despite how hard you work. You can only work so many hours in a day and there are only so many tasks and activities you can complete to help a certain number of clients. The bottom line is this: Because the number of clients you can help is limited, your success is limited.
The only way to overcome this limitation is through delegation. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team that supports you achieving a greater level of success.
1. Delegation can relieve you of certain tasks, giving you the gift of time to learn and grow.
2. Delegation gives you the power to multiply yourself many times over by using the time, knowledge, experience and creative power of other people to supplement your own.
3. Delegation allows you to devote energy to more important or high-priority activities.
4. Delegation fosters team-building by developing in others a sense of belonging, importance and success.
5. Delegation encourages creativity, initiative and independence for you and for those to whom you choose to delegate.
6. Delegation offers opportunity for growth and the development of new skills.
7. Delegation inspires motivation, as others feel their opinions count and their input matters.
8. Delegation boosts productivity and shows others how their efforts contribute to the whole.
9. Delegation develops better decision-making skills for both you and those to whom you have chosen to delegate.
10. Delegate empowers others to create, and people support what they help create.
How Do I Determine What to Delegate?
Knowing what to delegate requires a clear picture of everything on your plate. The best way to figure out where all your time is going is to track your time by writing down every task and activity that you do within a time block. Maintain this log for as many days as needed until you feel you have captured the majority of tasks and activities.
You may be surprised to see how your time is actually being spent and surprised to see what constitutes the biggest time demands. You may discover that the log does not reflect some activities that you should be doing to reach your goals. You may also realize that there are tasks that can be eliminated entirely.
Once you have a good inventory of your work tasks and activities, you will need to determine what to delegate since not everything is appropriate for delegation. Consider these questions:
- Can a team member be given the needed information and training to successfully complete the task? Does a team member already have the needed expertise for this task?
- Is this a less-than-essential task that requires skills you do not have? More often than not, this would likely be something that is technical in nature.
- Is this a task that frequently occurs? Is this a task that is performed daily or weekly? If the task does not occur with sufficient frequency, it may not be worth delegating because of the time involved in training and monitoring.
- Will you be able to devote sufficient time to provide the required training, monitoring and follow-up?
Should you delegate this task? You have to carefully consider the risk of failure. Would a failure be irrecoverable? How much would failure impact other things? Is this an essential task that is critical for you to perform? Is this a high-priority activity that requires your attention?
The next step is to complete a worksheet that has the following categories:
- Tasks I must do personally
- Tasks others can do
- Tasks that could be simplified
- Tasks that could be eliminated
After listing your tasks in the proper categories above, take immediate action to eliminate the unnecessary jobs. It is common for work to continue simply because it has always been done, rather than because it must be done.
Then, concentrate your attention on the tasks that need to be simplified. Invest in the time now to streamline the procedures and processes of how the work is done.
Next, you can use the list of "tasks others can do" as a starting point to develop a job description for the team member you plan on hiring.
Finally, review the tasks that you must do personally and consider that these should be the elements of your job most critical to success, and should fill the major portion of your time.
What Are the Most Important Principles of Effective Delegation?
1. Clearly describe what is to be done and specify the desired outcome.
2. Provide needed training.
3. Clarify authority.
4. Ensure needed resources are available.
5. Monitor progress and provide feedback.
6. Provide adequate support but avoid upward delegation.
7. Reward and recognize good performance.
What Are Some Delegation Tips?
1. Delegate the whole, if possible, not just part of a larger task, to provide the team member with a full sense of accomplishment.
2. Delegate routine tasks, even if you think you could do them more quickly yourself.
3. Delegate details that take the biggest amount of your time.
4. Delegate the job that you are least qualified to do.
5. Delegate all tasks that someone else could do. Know the specialties of those on your team.
6. Delegate tasks in which 80-90 percent efficiency is acceptable.
7. Build in flexibility. Establish a safety net by cross-training so that more than one or two team members can complete a task.
8. Be willing to share your knowledge and skills, and provide needed training.
9. Specify in detail what you want accomplished. Indicate what steps need to be taken. If the task is large, break it into manageable parts for the person to whom you are delegating.
10. Communicate how the delegated task fits into the overall project or goal.
11. Establish firm timelines but build in a time cushion in case the work takes longer than expected.
12. Specify the scope and the limits of the responsibilities and authority for the team member to whom you are delegating. Should the team member make decisions independently or consult with and defer to you?
13. Delegate a level of authority that is appropriate to the task and the experience of the team member.
14. Establish agreed-upon checkpoints and monitor progress.
15. Focus on results, not methods. The team member may find a better way than you have to do the task.
16. Give feedback. The purpose of giving feedback is to reinforce desirable behavior and discourage undesirable behavior. It is most powerful if given immediately following the behavior.
17. Do not solve problems for the person to whom you are delegating. Have the person propose solutions. Then help choose the best solution.
18. Give those to whom you have delegated full credit for their accomplishments and ideas.
19. Keep communication lines open. Communicate well and often and be an active listener.
20. Be a non-perfectionist. Encourage openness about mistakes and give team members the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
Debbie De Grote is the founder and owner of Excelleum Coaching and Consulting.