As a class teacher, you have personal responsibility for everything that happens in your classroom, so making the transition to being a middle leader, who has to delegate tasks to others, can be tough. Here’s how to develop your delegation skills.
1. Play to your team’s strengths
Identify the talents of each individual in your team and exploit these shamelessly. If, for example, you have an Excel whizz in your department, make them responsible for setting up your tracking sheets.
2. Make your expectations clear
Be clear about what you are delegating, what you are expecting to see and when. It helps to provide a model of what you’re looking for or direct your team member to ideas or examples. It also helps to send them an email summing up what you’ve agreed.
3. Don’t micro-manage
Resist the temptation to keep asking how it’s going. Don’t stand over a team member’s shoulder offering your suggestions. This sends a message that you don’t trust them. Give people the autonomy to do their job.
4. Be open to interpretations
Accept that a great job will look different when it is done by somebody else. If you hold on too tightly to your own idea of how it should be done, you may fail to recognise the value of whatever your team member has produced.
5. Don’t check up, but do check in
While you shouldn’t micro-manage, you should be available for your team. Let them know that they can come to you if they’re struggling or want to hear your feedback on a task. You might like to suggest a specific time to discuss their progress.
6. Give credit
If someone has done a great job, tell them. Make sure others know, too, and drop in a good word with the powers that be on their behalf. Giving credit where it’s due means people are more likely to do good work when you delegate to them in future.
7. Don’t delegate the dross
Delegating isn’t about farming out the jobs you don’t want to do. Where possible, you should delegate things that will provide a development opportunity for a member of your team. This is especially true if you’re delegating to someone who doesn’t have a teaching and learning responsibility.
8. Know where the buck stops
Remember that the overall responsibility lies with you. If something in your department goes awry, it is a leadership issue. Did you pick the right person for the task and offer support? Did you make your expectations clear? Your team should know you trust them to do the job but, should it go wrong, you’ll be there to resolve it.
Rebecca Foster is head of English at St Edmund’s Girls’ School in Salisbury