Building a successful practice is about more than just being able to win work. You also need to be able to build a strong team beneath you. This doesn’t happen automatically. In this article, I explore how you can delegate effectively so that your team becomes strong and proactive team.

My staff are not proactive… I need to tell them what to do all the time

Does this ring any bells? I frequently hear people complaining that ’I tell them what needs to get done, even how to do it, and they still don’t do it right’, or ‘I have to continually keep telling them what to do – they never seem to take the initiative. What should I do?’

What are you delegating?

Firstly, ask yourself: What are you actually delegating?

The behaviours you find so frustrating are normally symptomatic of tasks being delegated rather than responsibilities. What do I mean by delegating tasks? I mean when you dictate to your staff, ‘how’ to do the task.

Why we delegate?

Let’s firstly think about why we delegate. When you are in a senior role within a firm there is never enough time to do everything by yourself. It is just not possible to build up a large £1 million+ client portfolio and act as a lone wolf.

The benefits of delegating responsibilities are many. For example, it means that your team are more likely to take full ownership for the task, which should mean a better completion rate. Having ownership means the team are more likely to take the initiative and take over this part of your workload permanently – rather than you always repeating how to do the task.

Delegation should be used to save time, to develop a member of your staff, or increase the profit on a job. Sounds simple?

How can you delegate effectively?

Your member of staff needs to own the responsibility. So here are three ways that you can use to ‘sell’ the role:

  • why the job needs to be done
  • what the required end result is
  • when the job needs to be done by

If you add ‘how you want the job done’, you are taking away ownership and you have delegated a task rather than a responsibility.

Why do we fall into the trap of saying how we want the job done?

I see this frequently with highly skilled professionals – they believe that their way is the right way and consequently quicker, and so their team should do it their way. This may be correct, but for a team member  to take full ownership, they need to decide, and often learn, how they will get the task done.

Secondly, an  inexperienced team member may need direction on how to tackle a task. However, as time goes by they need it less, but the manager hasn’t changed approach.

Thirdly, delegation requires trust to be able to relinquish full control of a responsibility. Very often managers don’t like to feel they have lost control of a task and consequently they micro-manage.  This is exceptionally time consuming for the manager, and very frustrating for the members of staff!


What are your personal obstacles to delegating properly?


Read more on successful delegation

Four questions to answer to delegate successfully

Three easy but powerful delegation tips

Five ways to minimise risk when delegating

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