To some, delegation comes easily. To others, not so much. But mastering the art of delegation is a must for effective leadership and staff growth.
When you delegate, staff members know you’re recognizing their talents and that they are important to the group. They are likely to take on greater responsibilities and maybe even feel more willing to try new things.
But you may wonder, what is delegation, how do I do it, and can I really delegate work that needs to get done?
First, let’s discuss what delegation is and is not. Delegation is not giving away jobs you don’t want to do yourself. Whatever you do, don’t use it to check tasks off your to-do list. Instead, think of delegating authority and responsibility to the staff members you know can handle them. Also, try not to view delegation as an exercise; view it as something that will help you with the way you manage every day.
Delegating effectively can benefit everyone. For instance, your strengths as a leader and your relationship with your staff can improve. And joint decision-making between you and your staff can lead to better communication, which can improve patient care and safety.
Here are some tips you can use to hone your delegation skills:
- Don’t look on delegation as a negative
- Stop wanting to do everything yourself
- Match staff abilities with responsibilities
- Develop exact and precise directions
- Be clear on timelines and deadlines
- Provide necessary resources
- Give plenty of advice and assurance
Here are ways to incorporate the tips listed above:
Know your team. Identify the person who is best able to complete the job in terms of capability and availability. Validate this by asking the employee: Do you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities? Do you have the time? The employee must consider the task to be important—there must be a sense of ownership for it. How are you going to convey the importance—the value—of the task being delegated?
Know the job. Although you might not perform your employee’s job, you must understand what it entails. That means knowing, for example, when peak workload occurs, knowing the departments with which the employee interacts, and understanding the resources and tools typically available.
Communicate. Make sure the employee understands exactly what you want him/her to do. Explain the reason for the assignment (Your reasons should focus on the needs of the organization and the opportunity for the delegee). Ask questions, watch the work performed, and ask for feedback to make sure your instructions were understood. Identify key points of the project or dates when you want feedback or completion and create a sense of urgency. You need assurance that the task is on track. Although the desired end product should be specified, it is important to give the employee an appropriate degree of autonomy in deciding how the work can be accomplished.
And last but not least…
Evaluate. Identify the outcome you’ll use to determine that the project was successfully completed. Evaluate after the task is completed. Include what the person did well and opportunities for improvement. This allows you to develop a mutually productive relationship.
Getting it right by delegating can work to actually multiply nurses and maximize their skill sets in a short-staffed setting. When effective delegation skills are used, nurses and patients benefit.
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Do you know what work you can, or should, delegate? What tasks can you assign to patient care assistants (PCA), or to unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP)? Can licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) delegate responsibilities? Learn More>
In 2005, both the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) adopted papers on delegation. Both papers presented the same message: delegation is an essential nursing skill. This joint statement has been updated (2019) – The National Guidelines for Nursing Delegation, reflecting an effort to standardize the nursing delegation process based on research findings and evidence in the literature and is applicable to all levels of nursing licensure (advanced practice registered nurse [APRN], registered nurse [RN], licensed practical/vocational nurse [LPN/VN]) where the nurse practice act (NPA) is silent. Learn More>