Delegating project work-packages is a force-multiplier. It is how you get your project done without having to be there to do it.
Sure, on a large project, that’s how it works. But far too many project managers find it hard to hand out what they consider to be important tasks.
Only one of those excuses is even remotely plausible…
It’s the second. The rest is, frankly, signs of insecurity or bad management. Not only does delegation amplify your personal effectiveness, but it is also a powerful way to:
With so many reasons to delegate a project task well, you should be doing it as much as possible. But that still leaves a lingering doubt in your mind. “How can you be sure it will be done and done right?”
The Top Ten Secrets of Delegating with Confidence
Let’s take a look at the ten tips to improve your project management delegation if you want to do it effectively.
1. Right Reasons
Let's face it, there are plenty of poor reasons to delegate:
Good project managers, however, choose to delegate:
As with so much else, intention matters.
2. Right Work
Carefully select the work package that you are going to delegate. Avoid choosing something that absolutely requires your full attention, for example, because it is confidential. Nor should you delegate work that is so trivial as to be an insult.
Delegate worthwhile work packages that provide an opportunity to:
3. Right Person
Match the person to the task:
This is not just for their benefit. You will be able to have much more confidence that the right person will finish the work properly, than others whom you have not selected carefully.
4. Right Level
Remember that work packages that you delegate are part of your project. Therefore, you remain accountable for them.
So, to manage the risk to you, to them, and to your organization, you need to delegate the right level of responsibility. This will depend on:
Delegate full authority where you can, but reserve more right to check, review and intervene, as the risk level increases.
5. Right Briefing
A common fear with delegation is the constant interruptions when the person you delegated to needs more and more information. Pre-empt this by taking the time to brief really well.
"It would be quicker to do it myself" you might think. Yes, maybe it would... the first time. Think of delegation (and the briefing part in particular) as an investment.
For big work packages, consider drawing up a Work Package Description. This should contain:
You may also want to include
6. Right Commitments
When you have briefed, check their understanding.
If you get a yes, check that they believe they have everything they need (knowledge, skills, and resources).
If you get a yes, finally check "are you committed to getting this done, by this deadline?" Look them in the eye. Indeed, if you have drafted a Work Package Description, ask them to sign it.
7. Right Monitoring
The ultimate risk of every work package will always remain with you. So, for your sake as well as theirs, be sure to monitor their progress regularly.
The frequency and depth of your monitoring will depend partly on your assessment of the risk, and partly on how they are progressing.
8. Right Reviews
When you monitor, the way you conduct a review will often determine the level and motivation and learning you leave in your wake.
As a simple rule of thumb…
9. Right Rewards
If I do something for you, I deserve a reward. My own success and feelings of improving skill-level will be a part of that, but the three things you can offer that will enhance my feelings of reward are:
10. Right Feedback
To really grow individual capabilities and organizational strength, make time to help them reflect on their work. The most important feedback is that which they generate for themselves.
Help them to draw positive, constructive lessons from the experience. Not just what went wrong and how to fix it. But, crucially, what went right and how to institutionalize and enhance it.