Delegation is a key to task and project management

Mila Podgornaya

Head of Software Solutions Department, Project Manager at Integrity Vision
Mila Podgornaya is a project management professional with more than 10 years of experience, a SCRUM master.
Mila Podgornaya

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Every person, at least once in his life, was faced with the need to set a task. Task-setting is needed to complete almost every kind of project. It doesn’t matter who you are: CEO, project manager, team leader or office manager — in any role, task management is a necessary tool for you to achieve your goals.

As it is inefficient and unrealistic to independently carry out all tasks to achieve the goals of the project/department, so we use delegation. It is a process in which it is important to be able to set a task, monitor its implementation and accept the results. This can be useful not only in work, but also in personal life, for example, l when it is necessary to share responsibilities within the family.

We will talk about this in this article.

Common understanding of purpose

Do not think that things that are obvious to you are the same for another person. Due to the likelihood of a misunderstanding, it is important to make sure that both of you understand the task in the same way. To make sure of this, ask the person to explain your task in his own words. After all, it is obvious that in case you were misunderstood, it is unlikely that you will get what you expected in the end. In case person does not understand the task after several iterations, try to use another description technique (such as drawing a scheme, explaining through analogy, ect). Everyone has different way of thinking, so approaches should differ as well.

Variability of execution

Explain to the person what you want to achieve, but do not say how. Perhaps he knows how to solve the problem faster or better. You can use different approaches, methods, technologies. Therefore, leave the variability in achieving goals. At the same time, if you know the possible risks, tell about them to worker, performing tasks. Warning employee about risks and pitfalls will accelerate goal achievement.

Provide your team members with maximum helpful information. Tell him about all available resources: people, tools, trainings. The more information you give at the beginning, the fewer questions you receive after the project started.

Deadlines and consequences of fulfilling/not fulfilling the task

The more information you give at the beginning, the fewer questions you receive after the project started why the work should be ready on time (if you have a certain deadline) and what will happen in case the work wouldn’t be ready. The employee must understand that the requirements are not far-fetched. Also, explain how completing the task influences the whole project. Let’s imagine that there is a project that is very important for our company, or we work with a new technology for the first time and it will give us a competitive advantage in the market. Tell about advantages, the company will receive, that we will become the only ones, who will gain such competence on the market, that we will have practical experience that other companies will not have. Explain the importance of the project and tell about a positive result from the implementation, then people will better understand and share its importance.

Coordinate the time with the performer. You may have your own expectations, but everyone has its own pace, which can lead to deviations. Therefore, ask the employee how much time he needs to do the task. If the person has a new task, then he may try to count up risks and say that he needs more time than is actually needed. If this happens, try splitting the task into several smaller ones.

Important! Give people time to get familiar with new tasks and to find out how to complete them. After that ask them for feedback to understand how things are going.

Meeting schedule

Schedule control meetings to track progress of the employees. Otherwise, it may turn out that person did not complete the task a day before the deadline.

It is very important that you should be prepared for these meetings. If you tell the performer several times that you are busy (at the time agreed for the meeting), then he may get the impression that you do not need the task or that it is not important. Remember, if the task is not a priority for you, then for the performer this is not so. If you can’t answer his questions according to the schedule, tell him when you can.

Also, explain that there is a possibility to contact with you because of questions or for help. The contractor should not be afraid to come up to you, and say that something went wrong. Be open for communication to get information about a problem not when it has already happened.

How to accept tasks and who is responsible for their implementation

For the correct acceptance of the results, acceptance criteria must be initially defined. Any task should be outlined using, for example, SMART techniques. Decide for yourself in what form you want to get the desired result. There can be many criteria, but the more you describe them, the more the result will be alike with what you originally requested.

The worker is always responsible for the task. In case he doesn’t feel responsibility he will not work hard enough. Do not forget that you, as a leader, control, help, allocate resources, but the employee must understand that he is responsible for the task.

Let’s imagine that the result is far from our expectations even if we followed all the recommendations. You will learn more about what can go wrong and what to do in such cases it in the next article.

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