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How to delegate more effectively

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Managers who worry about their ability to hand off duties often try to improve by unleashing a flood of delegation. Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, on his , says that's the wrong move. You need to delegate more effectively, not more frequently. You must be sure you are delegating to people who are ready to handle the challenge.

He suggests starting by talking one-on-one with your subordinates and asking each to define their area of responsibility. Then ask, within that sphere of responsibility whether there are areas where you need to let go and delegate more to the person; and whether there are areas where you need to get more involved and provide more help.

With that information, move on to ask your staff how you fare in managing yourself. Here the two questions are: Do you ever see me doing things that I don't need to be doing? Can I let go of some of my work and give it to staff members? You probably are wasting your time on activities a manager at your level need not tackle, and there is room to hand off responsibilities.

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After talking with your staff, "don't promise to do everything that everyone suggests," Mr. Goldsmith says. "Just promise to listen to their ideas, think about all of their suggestions, get back to them – and do what you can."

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