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Many project managers have trouble delegating responsibilities, and it’s easy to understand why. In many cases, the PM is the most experienced member of the team, having established himself or herself as a subject matter expert before taking on the project manager’s role. When projects present significant challenges, or when a project is at risk, it can be very tempting for a PM to try to do everything alone.

Photo of business hands holding blackboard and writing DELEGATE word cloud

Photo of business hands holding blackboard and writing DELEGATE word cloud

Failure to delegate properly, however, often causes its own set of problems. In addition to leaving the project manager overworked and overextended, the situation can deprive the project of insights and solutions that other team members might have provided. Managers who try to do everything themselves can also create feelings of resentment and boredom among team members who don’t have enough to do.

If you find yourself trying to do too much on the projects you manage, these strategies can help you delegate tasks while still maintaining visibility and control over the project as a whole.

Set Expectations with Your Team

You don’t want team members to be surprised when they receive unexpected task assignments, or to be surprised by how little they are asked to do. Effective delegation is only possible when team members have accurate expectations regarding the amount of work they will be doing, and how they will receive assignments. Setting expectations with your team is just as important as managing the expectations of your stakeholders, so be sure to set time aside to speak with your team on a personal level about your expectations.

Have a Plan for Delegation

Task delegation, like every other aspect of project management, works best when you plan in advance. As you work on your project plan and begin to define the tasks that will need to be completed, start to think about which team members (or roles, if specific individuals have not yet been assigned) can be assigned to each task. This approach maximizes your ability to align tasks with team member availability and skill sets, rather than simply dividing tasks up among the entire team once the project begins.

Provide Support

Make sure that your team members, especially the less experienced members, know where to get the assistance or information they need in order to complete their tasks. Whether it’s by sending them links to training seminars or investing in the tools they need, a team member is only as good as the support system they have. Clarizen’s innovative collaboration and document management tools, for example, make it easy for employees to share ideas and take advantage of each other’s strengths.

Let Your Team Do Their Work

Once you’ve handed out your task assignments, take a step back and allow your team members to do their work. While it’s still important to get regular status updates in order to keep the project on schedule, excessive requests for updates can defeat the entire purpose of delegation– you’ll spend all of your time following up on the tasks you supposedly delegated, and your team members will end up as frustrated and disengaged as if you’d never assigned their tasks in the first place.

Manage Your Team with Full Visibility

Once you have stepped aside and are delegating effectively, it’s important to have full visibility into your team’s workload along with a way to measure and report on project health and progress. That’s where a solution like Clarizen can make all the difference with real-time visibility and reporting, holistic management of project portfolios and cross-team collaboration—so you can meet deadlines and align your team’s efforts to the larger goal(s) at hand. Find out more by signing up for a free 30-day trial.

Angela Bunner
Angela has 17 years of experience in the project portfolio management space, mostly with Oracle, as well as with NetSuite, before joining Clarizen where she is a Director of Product Strategy and Sales Engineering. Angela has extensive industry experience in engineering & construction, professional services, aerospace & defense, public sector, as well as working with embedded service organizations such as IT and marketing PMOs.