Few things are more hectic than a project in full swing, and despite all the training and tools in the world, project managers don’t have enough hours in the day to deal with it all. You have to change tactics. That’s why delegating is such an important skill to learn—and it is a skill.
With so much at risk, we project managers have to be careful to whom we delegate critical tasks. Choose the wrong person, and the team could fall apart and the project go down in flames. Choose the right person, and the project speeds through with flying colors.
So how do you find this miracle worker? You have to evaluate based on the following:
You’re looking for more than just technical skills (although that is important). You’re looking for skills you’d also search for in a project management candidate. Organization. Communication. Leadership.
This person doesn’t have to have the whole basket of skills—just whatever he needs to do the task required. For example, leadership skills are unnecessary if the team member is going to be working on his own.
Does he have the time to do what needs to be done? We’re all busy, true, but the whole point of delegating a task is so that a person with no time to do it (you) can rely on a person who does (your delegate).
Overloading a person just to get a task off your plate is just spreading the misery around. The task will still be poorly done, only now it’s not your fault. Except that, as the leader and the delegator, it ultimately is.
Can you trust this person to get the job done? The team member doesn’t have to cheer and whoop when you hand him the task assignment (although that would be nice), but he at least has to have a good sense of responsibility. You have to know and trust his work ethic and attitude, so that you can be confident that he’ll do a good job on the task.
A little ambition would be nice, because if you can see that he’s trustworthy and effective, than you can begin grooming him or her for better things. On the other side of the coin, having the right skills won’t help if the guy needs to be dragged and prodded every step of the way.
The key to delegation is being familiar enough with your team that you know everyone’s strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. No one is going to be perfect for every job, but as project manager you have to know who the perfect fit for the occasion is.
Image credit, Flickr, Nicole Mays