Contributed by Walker Penfield, Nipmuc Regional DECA
Nobody likes to work on a mismanaged project, and you should not want to lead one. A venture is only as successful as the team behind it, which is why effective leadership and delegation are crucial. Delegation is the art of prioritization, designation and trust. By implementing the following five pieces of advice, you will be equipped to lead larger, more complex projects, which will produce higher quality outcomes.
1. Assign Roles
For delegation to succeed, you need clear-cut roles. Each member of your team should be assigned a function based on their strengths and skill level. Roles help a leader understand what tasks to assign different people. Also, do not forget to document and articulate the responsibilities of each position. Roles will help divide the obligations within a project.
Leaving your team in the dark is a common mistake made by many leaders. The more you inform your team, the better they will be able to carry out their responsibilities. By correctly sharing your vision and goals, the group will know what they should strive to accomplish. Along with presenting an initial plan, it is essential to update the team along the way and to keep track of their progress. If something is not going as planned, it is imperative that the leader knows so they can take appropriate action.
3. Categorize Work
A considerable portion of delegation is deciding who should do what work. A helpful method to aid in this decision-making process is dividing the work up into four categories. Base these categories on skill level and effort. For example, high-skill/high-effort, high-skill/low-effort, low-skill/high-effort, and low-skill/low-effort. Tasks that require high skill should be taken on by you or another specialized team member. The leader should almost always hand off low-skill but high-effort assignments because they are time-consuming and do not require significant experience; your time could be better used working on more intricate, but less time-consuming undertakings.
4. Learn to Trust
One of the most detrimental mistakes a leader can make in a project is micromanagement. When someone takes control, it completely negates the efforts of the delegation, which is intended to distribute the workload. The act of taking over the project's burden puts all of that responsibility back on the leader, which will result in endless amounts of stress and frustration. If you are the type of leader who often finds themselves micromanaging, the best thing you can do is learn to let go. When you delegate a task to a team member, trust them to complete it. If needed, be there to help them through the process, and do not be afraid to teach someone new skills. By letting go and trusting team members to get their job done, the project's workflow will become much more efficient compared to the leader doing all the work themselves.
A project leader's worst nightmare is discovering an incomplete task at the last minute. To prevent a situation like this, make sure that you are verifying your team's work along the project's timeline. It is the leader's job to make sure everyone has completed their delegated tasks, and the quality meets the expectations. Never save this for the last minute, or you could risk missing an important deadline.