Delegation 101

Delegating tasks is an important way for you to balance your group’s workload while also helping team members to grow. But farming out responsibilities can be a daunting task by itself. We’ve put together some principles to help you get the best results from delegating within your PMO.

How

Your delegation methods will help to set your team up for success.

Delegate completely. That doesn’t mean you delegate everything—instead, it means that you need to trust that your team can take on the new tasks and succeed at them. Don’t micromanage, don’t hover, and don’t take back a task unless you’ve exhausted every other option.

Be available to help. Your team members may have questions about the tasks you’ve given them, and it’s important that you don’t see that as a bad thing. Answering their questions and providing direction is how your staff will learn and gain expertise.

Why

There are a couple of primary reasons you should delegate within your team.

Workload. There’s too much work for just one person. Your team needs to rely on the combined skills, expertise, and energy of all its members in order to accomplish everything on the schedule.

Improving skill sets. There’s no better way to nurture new talents than to put them to use. When your team members are given tasks that test their abilities, they’ll have the opportunity to improve and expand their skill sets.

What to delegate

Use these guidelines to determine which tasks you should keep and which make sense to delegate.

Tasks that don’t require your attention. There are many issues that only YOU can deal with, either because you have specific expertise or as a result of your seniority or authority. Any task that doesn’t fit that criteria should be considered for delegation. Remember, though, to keep your team’s workload reasonable and equitable.

Fun stuff. Yep, it’s time to recognize that fun stuff really does exist in project management, and your team deserves to enjoy some of it. If you only delegate boring or unpleasant tasks, you’re drastically undermining your PMO’s sense of team. Farm out the fun stuff and everyone will be more eager to pitch in when the mundane tasks crop up.
Difficult tasks. Too many managers keep the hard stuff for themselves because they aren’t sure their team is up to the task. It’s better in the long run—for you and your team—if you learn to delegate tough tasks while also assuring your staff that you’re available to help if they need it. You’ll free up more of your own time to focus on higher level issues, you’ll be providing your team with fantastic growth opportunities, and you can still shepherd tasks along as your staff learns the ropes.

What to keep for yourself

As you evaluate the tasks and issues facing your PMO, you’ll find some that aren’t good candidates for delegation. Below are a few examples.

Supervisory issues. Anything related to the management of your direct reports is your responsibility (and yours alone). A matrix reporting environment doesn’t change anything—you’ll only be doing your employees a disservice if you delegate the supervisory tasks that belong to you.

Budget accountability. Final responsibility for submitting accurate budgets, meeting budget objectives, and preventing cost overruns in your area(s) isn’t something you should delegate, even if others in your group share some of those tasks along the way.

Documentation oversight. It’s likely that others in your group have day-to-day responsibility for contributing to or maintaining your PMO’s documentation, but the overall task of ensuring accuracy, completeness, and compliance should remain with you.

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