My first suggestion in trying to improve delegation skills is for you to always remember: "Delegate more effectively -- don't just delegate more frequently."
My good friend and mentor Paul Hersey showed me why more delegation was not necessarily better delegation. If we delegate an assignment to a person who lacks the motivation and ability to do the job, we do a disservice to both the person and our organization. We need to delegate only to people who are ready to handle the challenge.
To get this right, begin by scheduling a one-on-one conversation with each of your direct reports. Ask each to list their key areas of responsibility. Then ask, "Within this area of responsibility:
1) Are there areas where I need to ‘let go' or delegate more to you?
2) Are there areas where I need to get more involved or provide more help to you?"
If you are like most leaders, you will probably find that while there are some areas that you need to let go more, there are others areas where your direct reports would appreciate more of your involvement. Tailor you delegation strategy to fit the unique needs of your staff members.
After getting your direct reports' input on how you manage them, get their ideas on how you manage yourself. Ask,
1) Do you ever see me doing things that I don't need to be doing?
2) Can I let go of some of my work and give it to my staff members?
If you are like most leaders, you are probably wasting some of your time on activities that a manager at your level doesn't need to do. By delegating these activities to staff members you may simultaneously free up some of your own time (for more strategic work) and help to develop them.
After getting input from your direct reports, don't promise to do everything that everyone suggests. Just promise to listen to their ideas, think about all of their suggestions, get back to them -- and do what you can.
Life is good.
My recent book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.