Your Practical Guide to Delegating Tasks: Steps for Leaders
When it’s time to start delegating tasks, especially a bunch of them at the same time, you may feel a little overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. But this step-by-step guide—taken from the best delegation practices of more than 1,000 founders, leaders, and decision-makers—will guide you through the most proven and effective delegation process from start to finish.
Step 1: Prioritize what to delegate
The very first step towards effective delegation is to identify your key strengths––your "zone of genius"––where your skills are unmatched. Anything outside this zone is best delegated to other team members, a specialist, or your assistant.
You can then make a list considering time sensitivity and task duration. Prioritize tasks that, when delegated, maximize your time. This simple process helps you lock in on tasks you've been handling unnecessarily, emphasizing the value of delegation.
Step 2: Embrace your role in your assistant’s, or EA’s, success
Empowering your executive assistant requires an initial investment of time and energy. Think of it like starting a fitness routine where initial fatigue leads to measurable gains. Here's what you need to know and accomplish in maximizing your EA's success:
- Acceptance of upfront investment: Understand that dedicating time and energy initially will yield significant returns once your assistant is proficient.
- Provide digital access: Grant your assistant access to your digital life for independent functioning.
- Introduce key contacts: Facilitate direct connections between your key stakeholders and your assistant, eliminating the need for you to act as an intermediary.
- Accept reasonable error margin: After delegating tasks, empower your assistant by allowing a reasonable margin of error
- Commit to quality feedback: Prepare to offer honest and helpful feedback. Even experienced assistants benefit from constructive coaching.
Step 3: Define your delegation stack
The right delegation stack prepares you to collaborate seamlessly with your new assistant, empowering them to handle any assigned task efficiently. A full digital access stack includes:
- Instant messaging with voice capabilities: Set up a direct messaging line between you and your EA to enable quick daily delegation.
- Email & Messaging: Enable access to your email inboxes and messaging platforms for stakeholder communication.
- Calendar: Enable access for your assistant to manage and adapt your schedule.
- Task and project management: Use a shared system for assigning tasks, tracking progress, and marking completions.
- Screen and presentation recording: Enhance instruction through screen-sharing for asynchronous guidance.
- Knowledge management: Use a cloud-based platform for document access, creation, and sharing.
- Password manager: Grant access to passwords to enable your assistant to work independently.
Step 4: Provide thorough feedback
Once your EA finishes delegated tasks, it's time for your honest, concise, and construcive feedback—an integral part of the delegator's role. Don't be disheartened if things aren't perfect initially. Recognize this as the early stage of your relationship, allowing time for your assistant to grasp your preferences.
While praising accomplishments, equally focus on areas for improvement. This constructive feedback and is the cornerstone of molding this new relationship to precisely meet your requirements.
Step 5: Build breadth and depth
When first starting on the delegation journey, many leaders make the mistake of thinking their EA is only there to help them in their professional lives. This is not the case. You should be delegating tasks from a broad range of areas, which we call pillars. These pillars are:
Anything within these seven pillars—and beyond—is fair game for delegation. Your assistant’s job is to make your life easier, and your life is not just work. By building breadth and depth into your delegation, you will find that you have more time and energy than you ever thought possible. If you limit delegation to only one aspect of your life, you are doing yourself a massive disservice.
You can find playbooks for each pillar in our Athena Playbook Library.
Become an effective delegator with Athena
You should now have a full understanding of what delegation is and what it entails. As you can see, it is not a quick fix for feeling overwhelmed, but a lifestyle change that will allow you to live your life with more freedom and energy.
Stop wasting your precious time on tasks you do not need to be doing. Contact Athena today and begin your journey with your very own executive assistant.