How to Assign Work to Employees

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There are times when you need to change an employee's job description or when you need to assign a specific job task to an employee for a special project or for a finite period of time such as another employee's vacation period or leave of absence. Regardless of the circumstances, communication is an important element of assigning work. Communication can make the difference between excellent performance and an incomplete job.

Determine the reasons for assigning work to your employees. The process for assigning work is different for redesigning a job description than it is for assigning duties for a team project. Redesigning a job description is relatively easy because you have a blank canvas from which to begin assigning duties. For instance, if you need to assign work for an executive assistant, conduct research on typical duties of an assistant to upper management. On the other hand, if your team is working on a specific project, determine which tasks are part of the total project and determine the employee resources available to you.

Inventory your employees' skills, experience and capabilities. In addition, ask employees about their previous work experience and career interests. According to Women's Media, delegating effectively requires attention to an employee's skill set. It states: "Make sure you are delegating to someone who can successfully complete the task at hand." This is your opportunity to motivate employees who want to demonstrate their capabilities and improve their worth to the organization.

Construct a list of assignments. Use your review of resumes, applications and employee input to determine who has the required skills to perform the work. If you have two or more employees who are equally qualified and have an interest in performing the same job, devise a way to split the responsibilities so one employee isn't favored above another. If there are just slight differences in employee qualifications, consider assigning it to the best qualified employee and designating an alternate in case one employee alone cannot complete the task.

Develop a communication method that explains the assigned work, necessary qualifications and expectations. This is the most important step in assigning job duties, therefore your communication needs to be clear and must address every element of the work. The expected outcomes and job expectations are part of your performance standards. Performance standards are measurements you use for performance appraisals. A sample performance standard for assigned work could be "Use Microsoft Access to input 100 sales records per week with at least 98 percent accuracy." Using this example, you're assigning a new task as well as establishing a performance standard to incorporate into the employee's performance appraisal.

Discuss the new assignment with the employee. Be prepared to answer questions about how to perform the task, deadlines and to whom the employee should direct any questions about the assignment. This is part of your communication method. You must be able to fully explain the task, why it's important to the organization, what skills are necessary and how the employee benefits from taking on the new task. Employees who are interested in career development or skills improvement are interested in learning how they benefit from accepting new responsibilities.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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