Improving Your Delegation Skills
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA, Contributing Editor
As a retail dietitian you may often feel overextended, but may you also think you need to hang on to all of your projects to “protect” your work. Unfortunately, this instinct ultimately weakens our impact and may not allow others to grow. In his Harvard Business Review article regarding leaders and delegation, Jesse Sostrin, PhD states that your power actually decreases with every initiative you unnecessarily hold on to. To help maximize your productivity and increase your potential as a leader it’s important to hone your delegation skills. Here are 6 strategies to get you started:
1. Learn to let go - You may fear that no one else can execute certain tasks and projects effectively, but you must learn to let go. Start with small tasks and work your way up to bigger projects if possible. As you establish trust with your team and co-workers, delegation will become easier.
2. Create a system. You may want to create categories, according to the degree of effort a certain job requires and the skills that are needed. There may be some tasks that you must keep, while others could be delegated. The degree of effort should indicate which tasks are more important to delegate. For example, a high-effort task that someone else can accomplish more efficiently with their skillset will save you a lot of time.
3. Teach new skills. Look for opportunities to delegate tasks that may help someone else learn a new skill. This may take more time up front, but could save you time in the long run. By transferring new skills to others, you'll be opening the door to assigning similar tasks to that individual in the future.
4. Provide instructions. The guidelines for completing a job may be obvious to you but may be confusing to another person. Provide simple instructions when delegating and make sure any specifics for how the assignment should be carried out are included. You also need to be clear about your timeline.
6. Trust, but verify. Once a task is delegated, trust your team member to carry out the assignment on their own terms. However, it is fine to step in and confirm the job is moving along as planned. For example, they may appreciate you sending a note to see if they are having any difficulties that you can assist with. This type of communication can be helpful and doesn’t undermine their confidence.
Remember that delegating can be difficult at first, but over time you can develop the expertise to do it effectively.