Managing a Security Team can be a stressful business and by managing the art of delegation it will help you to manage your time more effectively which will give you more time to concentrate on the tasks that require your most attention.
Delegation is not to be confused with just passing out tasks to others, some thought should be given into how the Team Leader delegates. By breaking the team down and giving key team members certain areas of responsibility to add to their duties is a great way of ensuring things are done.
Use your team’s strengths to your advantage as that is what a team is for, if John was a mechanic in his past employment then make him in charge of the vehicle fleet, if Steve has an interest and holds several medical qualifications then put him in charge of all things medical. By giving these responsibilities to others you can ensure that there is a responsible person in charge of that area who can report to you any problems and can provide you with any info you require upon request.
Delegation like this can half your workload and make you much more effective as a leader, whilst delegation is not always the easiest option as inevitably there will always be areas that you feel you can do better than if you gave it to a team member, if this is the case then take some time and show/instruct the team member how you would like this area taken care of, this will take a little time and effort however the long term benefits will make it worthwhile.
Knowing When to Delegate
The biggest issue most new Team Leaders face is knowing when to delegate and they try to take on too much which minimizes their effectiveness in their role, times to delegate –
- When the workload becomes too much and you have not enough time to complete all of your tasks effectively.
- When the time you need to spend on your most important tasks is being cut short.
- When it becomes clear that certain team members may need to develop in certain areas.
There are many other benefits to delegating apart from the obvious one of giving yourself more time to deal with the areas immediately requiring your attention such as the development of team members. If members of the team are to develop they will need new challenges and by delegating certain tasks you can gauge and evaluate their ability in certain areas and spot areas in that person that may require developing or improving upon. It is all too easy to hold onto all of the tasks and try to do it yourself when you may have valuable experienced operators within the team whose morale will suffer if they spend all of their time doing low-value meaningless work.
Knowing What to Delegate
Look at your job and what you are employed to do, if there are routine tasks that you may have always done but which impede and become an inappropriate use of your time then it is time to delegate that function or task out.
Delegate a project, which it makes sense for one person to handle as this will be a good test to see how the team member manages and co-ordinates their work by giving them something worthwhile to sink their teeth into can be a great motivator for some but become a chore for others so you may well learn a lot about you team members.
As mentioned previously in the article if a team member has a special aptitude such as being highly qualified in medical skills, or was once a mechanic then it makes perfect sense to make the best use of the team’s skills.
Knowing Who to Delegate to
It is very important to have a good understanding of your team and of the people to who you are going to delegate your tasks. The person must first of all have the skills and ability or at the very least the potential to carry out the task and take on the responsibility, you must also be able to trust this person.
Some tasks can be delegated amongst 2 or 3 people which will help ease the burden and allow the team to work together towards a common goal, if an important function of the team is delegated to one individual you must ensure that the task does not overburden them and keep an eye on the other duties they have as some of these duties may now need to be distributed between team members.
Once you have delegated a task you must give the authority to the team member to be able to finish it. There is nothing worse than a micro-manager sitting on your shoulder watching your every move and it will only hinder the team member in the task and could stop them from using their own initiative.
Delegate with a Plan
Being new to Team Leading can be daunting especially when you are in a team with vast experience, however, you will have to get over this because as a team leader you have the right and obligation to delegate. It most definitely won’t happen perfectly the first time and your ability to delegate will improve with experience. There are many people who are not cut out to be a team leader but they are a fantastic operator and people who make fantastic team leaders whom maybe wouldn’t reach the same levels as others as an operator.
Man management is an important skill set for team leaders and all decisions should be made decisively to avoid prevarication, for this to happen you need to learn to be assertive, all delegation should also be done in a positive and assertive manner so the person you are delegating too knows that you have confidence in their ability to carry out the task.
Plan ahead, if you expect the operator to be efficient in the task you have given them then you will have to ensure that you yourself are well organized. By having no plan for things that are going on it will be hard to assess the work which you have asked others to do, you must take the time to assess the person and how they are performing with the task given.
Discuss the task and function in-depth with the operator that you are delegating to explaining clearly what is expected of them. Ask the operator if they have any questions so you are happy they fully understand what is required of them.
If the task is of a time-critical nature it will be necessary to set deadlines and targets and you will need to be more specific about what is required and explain that you are always at hand should they need any support in completing the task.
Support in Delegation
Ensure team members who have been delegated tasks know they have your support. If you are delegating to a new team member it may in the early stages be necessary to share the tasks until you get the opportunity to gauge their ability.
The monitoring of progress is important and it is all too easy to forget about things until it is too late and the deadline looms, adaptability is key and deadlines and objectives may need to be changed as objectives change however there are some deadlines that will be set in stone and cannot be changed such as our principal attending major events that have been planned months/years in advance.
When tasks have been complete it is important to give praise and review how it went, if the person failed to deliver this will also need to be discussed.
Always focus on results rather than methods, if the operator does not carry out the task as maybe you would do it is important not to come down hard on them as some people have different methods of operating, what works best for you may not be best for someone else and if you look on you may just learn something.
Fears of Delegation
When you are new to team leading it is natural to have a fear or to feel uncomfortable in the delegation of certain tasks. There are many reasons for this, you may doubt the operator’s ability to carry out the task and fear that they might actually create more problems than they solve. This is where the trust must come in, even if they make a mistake they will learn from the mistake and it will only benefit both the operator and the team in the long run.
You may well think that delegating certain tasks may waste time as it may seem quicker to do the task yourself, this may well be true but moving forward as your career progresses you will no doubt need to delegate more so the earlier you start the better.
Some people may well actually fear that by delegating that the person they are delegating to is more qualified than them and will do a better job so will have a fear that they will take the spotlight and be seen as more worthy in the role than the actual team leader themselves. You must remember it’s you that’s the team leader and it is you that has been selected for the position because of your ability to do the job so if you have an operator who is a fantastic asset on your team then use them and do not become afraid of them.
Mastering the art of delegation will mean that everyone within your team will benefit. It will help you as a team leader to better manage your time and it will help interaction and development of your team whilst improving overall productivity.
If schedules are getting tight then you must delegate, if you are under pressure passing tasks on to the right person will save time in the end.
Remember to delegate assertively and with confidence, so the team member knows exactly what they are to do and what is expected of them.
You as the team leader are ultimately responsible for the work that you delegate out so remember to delegate with a plan utilizing team members strengths so you can operate at heightened effectiveness in the areas that you are needed most.
Team Leading and Delegation for Increased Productivity and Effectiveness
By Shaun West