At some point in every successful nurse's career, being overwhelmed with tasks will require you to learn the delicate art of delegation in order to function more effectively. Delegation is the transfer of responsibility for the performance of a task from one person to another, and if carried out well, will afford you the required space and time to concentrate on more difficult patient issues and deal with them successfully. It can also help to build up the skills of the nursing care staff who were delegated the responsibilities.

Here are five important tipsto help you effectively execute work delegation exchanges:

1. Become more acquainted with the support staff

Regardless of whether they are new to the nursing career or are long-time staff, every nurse should make an effort to become acquainted with the Healthcare Associates (HCAs) and other nursing support staff on the team. Getting to know them on a more personal level, and finding some common ground through shared hobbies or interests can enhance rapport, and gaining their trust and respect on a personal level will decrease the likelihood of push-back when a work task needs to be delegated to them.

2. Assign tasks objectively

Although it is intuitive to assign more complex assignments to a person who is already skilled at them, this does not help to build up and train other nurses or staff who have less experience - but you may need these staff to become competent in short notice in the, so what better time to begin training them up than now? Before allocating out such assignments, it may be useful to first request for volunteers in order to gauge pro-activeness and readiness, but it is also important to ensure allocations are done fairly and uniformly to prevent any perceptions otherwise. When a complex assignment has been given out, also make sure to check in with the assignee to ensure he/she knows whatto do, and who to go to if help or advice is required.

3. Be clear when giving instructions

Although it goes without saying that clear and detailed instructions must be given to staff if you are delegating a task to them, this is often not handled thoroughly, especially if the delegator is too accustomed to the task and feels the receiver 'should already know' what to do. Do not make this mistake - be clear and concise about what your targets and expected results are, do not hurry through the instructional process, and always, always make the effort to enquire whether there are any lingering doubts or queries. 

Also, be mindful that this staff also has other existing responsibilities, so make sure that the time allotment you are giving him/her is a reasonable one.

4. Use the opportunity for staff development

Essentially, delegation is not just to allow nurses to concentrate on important tasks – it also gives you the chance to build up your nursing care staff. An important aspect within this is of course the offering of direction and support if the staff lacks confidence, and the same also needs to be offered if the staff are not yet up to par but just lacking guidance.

More importantly, make an effort to give the staff positive feedback and express gratitude when a task is performed well, as this not only builds up their confidence, but also motivates them to continue producing work of high quality in the future.

5. Assess results and offer valuable feedback

As the delegator and effective in-charge of the task delegated, you will need to assess the staff's performance objectively, and offer constructive feedback not only to help with growth and improvement, but also to ensure that if delegation to that staff needs to be repeated in the future, it can be performed smoothly. It is your responsibility to reflect and evaluate the staff’s job performance as well as highlight the areas that need improvement, and note that this is a very important part of the process as staff often want and need feedback to help them improve.

Delegation and responsibility have always been considered to be closely related concepts. Essentially, delegation is one of the main management functions in nursing, and also one of the most complex skills that nurses need to learn. Being able to master this will be beneficial, both to increase productivity. and enable staff to enjoy a richer job scope, an important motivating factor in the workplace. MIMS

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