delegation tips for architects

Delegation for architects – the mindset shift & top tips

Like with many creative and complex professions, a lot depends on you as a professional in architecture. Most of the time, you are the worst bottleneck in your own business.

We’ve written about hiring architectural assistants in the past – this post will help you delegate more easily and organize delegating in a fast and efficient manner.

Reasons to delegate more

Delegation is a not-so-secret weapon for scaling any business, including architecture firms. 

Let’s go over all the major reasons you should learn to delegate ASAP:

It frees you up

Delegation allows you as a leader to focus on strategic matters instead of busy work. Better time management is something you can’t buy for money – but learning to delegate gets you there. 

Focus on the higher-level aspects of your work, such as concept designing, planning, and meeting with clients.

It empowers your team members

Smart delegation can empower your team members and help them grow. Delegation is not just about offloading tasks; it’s about identifying the strengths and capabilities of your team and assigning tasks accordingly.

You want each task to be handled by the most competent person. This could mean delegating drafting work to junior architects, while senior architects focus on design and client relations.

With time, you need to switch to delegating responsibility rather than tasks, which is a great way to look at it.

As a nice side effect, delegation can improve work-life balance and prevent burnout. When team members get a larger scope of responsibility, they feel valued and empowered, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and morale.

You can move to larger projects (and checks)

Delegation is critical if you want to take on larger & cooler projects at the same time keeping the quality of your work consistent. There is always a moment in every architect’s career when you need to get help to tackle a larger project – and there is no way around it. The earlier you delegate, the better off you will be.

You manage risk better

Delegation can also help in risk management. By spreading tasks among the team, the risk associated with a single point of failure is minimized. If one person is unable to complete a task, there are others who are familiar with it and can step in to ensure continuity.

You innovate more

Delegation can lead to innovation and creativity. When you involve more people in your work, different perspectives and ideas can be brought to the table. This can lead to innovative solutions and creative designs, which are crucial in the architecture industry.

Your clients are happier

Ultimately, client satisfaction is the ultimate KPI. When competent team members handle tasks, architects can deliver projects on time and to a high standard, thereby meeting and exceeding client expectations. 

This can lead to repeat business and referrals, which are vital for growth in the UK architectural industry.

Reasons architects avoid delegation

Architects are often reluctant to delegate due to a number of reasons. 

One of the primary reasons is the fear of losing control. All great architects are trained to pay attention to minute details and they often fear that delegating tasks may result in a loss of quality or oversight.

While there are certain risks of delegated design in terms of liabilities and responsibility, they are easily solved when you set clear terms with your contractors. Using reliable contractors and vetting them properly helps too.

Another reason for their reluctance can be attributed to the belief that it’s quicker to do it themselves. This belief is an example of bias – and it’s just wrong. If it was correct then large architectural firms would not exist at all – but they do.

Another factor at play is the lack of actual delegation skills. Not everyone is naturally good at delegating, but the good news is that you can learn it. Learning project management is a great start that will help you set your mind on the right track.

Lastly, architects may be reluctant to delegate due to a perceived lack of resources. They may feel that they don’t have enough staff, or that their staff are already overworked.

Best practices for delegation

Facilitating delegation is one of the main functions of PlanMan, the project management software for architects we’ve built. 

We’ve worked with hundreds of architects who grew their practices from one-man shops to large firms, and these are the most common delegation tips they all named:

Communicate clearly

Effective delegation also involves clear communication. Leaders must clearly define expectations, deadlines, and objectives for each task. Everyone needs to understand their role and can work efficiently towards the goal. In practice, this could mean providing detailed briefs for design tasks, or clear SOPs & instructions for administrative tasks.

Cultivate trust

Delegation also requires trust and leaders must trust their team to execute tasks effectively. This trust is built over time, through consistent performance and open communication.

However, what matters much more is the clarity of your processes and the tech you use. You can, and should, minimize the amount of trust you need and make up for it with timely communication, task management, version control, and everything else modern project management has to offer.

Avoid micromanagement

Too much empowerment without proper guidance can lead to confusion, inconsistency, and mistakes. Micromanagement, on the other hand, can ensure that tasks are completed exactly as specified and can be useful in situations where precision and adherence to standards are paramount. 

However, excessive micromanagement will stifle creativity, lower morale, and lead to a lack of proactivity within the team. It can also consume a significant amount of your time, which could be better spent on strategic planning and decision-making.

Keep your delegation strategic

Strategic delegation begins with understanding each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. This requires open communication and regular feedback sessions.

Remember to acknowledge and appreciate your team members’ efforts. Recognizing their hard work and achievements boosts morale and encourages them to take on more responsibilities.

Strategic delegation is not a one-time event but a continuous process. You need to regularly reassess and adjust based on the team’s performance and the changing needs of the business. 

Tools for streamlined delegation in architecture

Project management

One of the most effective tools for streamlined delegation in architecture is project management software

Generic platforms like Asana, Trello, or Monday.com, allow architects to do all the basic stuff like assign tasks, track progress, and manage deadlines. 

However, there are some architecture-specific aspects to project management, and PlanMan is designed to account for these workflows.

PlanMan facilitates communication and collaboration between co-consultants, ensuring everyone is on the same page and has the latest version of documents.

BIM

Architects can also leverage Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools to delegate tasks more effectively. BIM tools, such as Autodesk Revit, allow for real-time collaboration and can be used to assign specific parts of a project to different team members. This not only streamlines the delegation process but also improves efficiency and accuracy.

Techniques

As for the techniques that help improve your delegation workflows – the RACI matrix is great for getting started. 

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. It’s a simple framework that helps clarify roles and responsibilities in a project and make sure no one is abandoned with overwhelming tasks.

As you map out tasks, ‘SMART’ goal setting can be valuable. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By setting SMART goals, architects can provide clear direction and expectations, making it easier for team members to understand their tasks and responsibilities.

Lastly, training and development programs can be instrumental in successful delegation. You can learn project management and adopt agile methodology to increase the effectiveness of your operations.

If you’re ready to start delegating the right way, get started by trying PlanMan – you will see that project management does not have to be complicated!