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Ask Dan
Q.
I like to be in control, but I know that I need to learn how to delegate. Can you give me some pointers on entrusting key tasks and responsibilities to others?

A.
In my years of researching workplace dynamics, I have found that one of the most essential skills a leader can develop is the ability to delegate duties to others. It's important because delegating will broaden what you can accomplish and strengthen your staff by helping them develop new talents.

I suggest taking a systematic approach. First, evaluate team members for their knowledge, skills, and work habits to do the jobs you ultimately want to delegate to them. Next, once you obtain a clear sense of these attributes, develop a specific strategy to help prepare them for the new tasks. For example, design a plan for your staff members that consists of assigning parts of tasks you would eventually like to turn over to them, along with a time frame sufficient to perform each task capably. Third, once they complete the duty, review their effort using both constructive criticism and positive reinforcement. Finally, assign another portion of the same task, repeating the last few parts of this approach until you feel the person could handle the entire job completely on his or her own.

In time, by evolving from someone who knows how to accomplish things alone to someone who knows how to achieve the same goals by assigning tasks to others, you'll ultimately become a better leader. E



Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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