Legal Career Essential: Mastering the Art of Delegation

Whether you’re a legal administrator, managing counsel, legal office manager, or any other legal professional with supervisory responsibilities, you inevitably feel the pressure at some point as you assume increased responsibilities and are assigned more work. You can only accomplish so much in a day’s time. Right?

Unfortunately, far too many legal professionals experience this kind of stress, especially as they are expected to tackle increasingly higher-level tasks. More often than not, it’s because they get bogged down by the day-to-day duties they should be delegating to their employees.  

Follow these five simple strategies to sharpen your supervisory skills and become a more effective, successful delegator:

Strategy #1: Resist your micromanagement tendencies. One of the most common challenges faced by legal professionals who supervise other employees is they can’t let go of the small stuff. This is a particular issue for those individuals who were recently promoted to a leadership position. Some duties you’ve been handling for quite a few years can be difficult to hand over to someone else. But if you don’t, you may be branded a micromanager who doesn’t give staff the opportunity to grow and learn. It’s time to relinquish control and delegate those tasks to other team members.

Strategy #2: Trust and train. You’ll never feel comfortable delegating projects to employees you can’t trust to get the job done. Training is key to developing trustworthy employees, particularly in the legal profession. You can’t expect team members to know how to accomplish a complex legal task if you’ve not spent enough time showing them how to do it. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to educate and guide your team members and show them the ropes. Once they’ve got the hang of a task, step back and give them the space to accomplish it on their own.

Strategy #3: Make the right match. Before you start handing out assignments, take time to do a little matchmaking. In other words, ask yourself which tasks are the best fit for each employee and delegate projects that match up with each team member’s expertise and skill set. When you make the right match, your employees will be more likely to execute the project effectively. Not only will this enhance their professional development, but it will also give you more time to handle your higher-level responsibilities.

Strategy #4: Share the big picture. All the training and expanded opportunities in the world won’t yield the results you want if your employees don’t understand the bigger picture. Without it, they’ll quickly become disengaged and unproductive, which can also add to the job stress they experience. Professionals like to know how their work is an important part of a larger mosaic. This is why it’s crucial to share your vision and long-term goals with your staff. Every time you delegate tasks, explain how the project will contribute to the law office’s overall vision and success.

Strategy #5: Offer plenty of praise. When you delegate a task to employees and they knock it out of the park, be sure to acknowledge the success by praising them both privately and publicly. A sign of a poor supervisor is one who speaks up only when employees have done something wrong. Not only is favorable feedback beneficial for the team member receiving the praise, but it’s also incredibly motivating for your other employees.

The most effective and successful managers in the legal profession have mastered the art of delegation. Tap into these five strategies to sharpen your delegation skills and boost productivity for both you and your team. 

What strategies do you use to delegate effectively to your team? Share your career advice and delegation tips in the comment box below.