How To Delegate
Managers get things done through other people. They delegate primarily because it makes their job easier. If they try to do everything themselves, they become unnecessarily burdened, their performance (and health) deteriorates, they fail to develop their staff adequately and, in time, the organisation will suffer. Indeed, many writers believe that delegation is the central ingredient in distinguishing between good and bad managers. Knowing how to delegate is a crucial management and leadership skill…
List in priority order those tasks you might consider delegating. To qualify for this list, a task should be taking too much of your time, be not strictly related to your key role, be rather routine, be appropriate and challenging for another staff member, or be better undertaken by someone with more appropriate skills or know-how than you. The purpose of delegating is not just to dodge work, or to unload tedious, unrewarding or difficult tasks—nor should you just keep the jobs you enjoy. Select the list on the basis that these are tasks that could and should be delegated.
List in priority order those tasks you might consider delegating. To qualify for this list, a task should be taking too much of your time, be not strictly related to your key role, be rather routine, be appropriate and challenging for another staff member, or be better undertaken by someone with more appropriate skills or know-how than you. The purpose of delegating is not just to dodge work, or to unload tedious, unrewarding or difficult tasks—nor should you just keep the jobs you enjoy. Select the list on the basis that these are tasks that could and should be delegated. Clarify in your own mind the task chosen to be delegated. Think through the task so that you can outline it clearly. For example, be able to provide details of:
• the expected results or product
• how the task might be approached
• sub-tasks within the overall task
• the limits of authority
• the necessary timelines
• how you will know the task is done
• what resources will be required
• what training might be necessary.
Understand the task fully yourself so that you will later be able to brief a staff member thoroughly.
As a good manager you should be aware of your staff’s strengths and limitations and delegate accordingly. Ideally, the person you choose should have the ability, knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, talent, and time needed to get the job done. Unfortunately, such qualities are not always found in the one person. So, before selecting someone, ask yourself:
• Who has the necessary skills?
• Who would be most challenged?
• Who would learn most? Who wouldn’t?
• Does the task require previous experience? Will the person need training?
• What particular personal qualities are needed? Who has them?
• Who can be trusted to do the job?
• What other workloads does this person have?
• Is more than one person needed? If so. can they work together successfully?
• Who would love to have a shot at a job like this? How will others react?
Delegation to the right person should improve skills, morale, and esteem.
In handing over the assignment, be prepared to set aside adequate time in private to communicate clearly:
• the scope of the task
• specific results to be achieved
• the time schedule and deadlines
• the available resources
• authority needed to carry out the job
• how performance can be measured
• sensitive or risky aspects of the task
• reporting procedures
• your confidence in the person.
Seek feedback and encourage questions to eliminate any confusion.
When you give people a job, make sure you tell them how much authority you are handing over. For example:
• ‘Look into the problem, suggest three solutions, and I’ll choose the best.’; or
• ‘Look into the problem, tell me how you plan to solve it, and do so unless I tell you otherwise.’; or
• ‘Look into the problem and tell me when you’ve solved it.’
Set parameters and establish controls to ensure this authority and the accompanying power will be properly used. If necessary, advise other relevant staff.
When you delegate, you do not abdicate responsibility: you must maintain some control over the project. At the minimum, agree to have your delegate inform you only when things are not going according to plan. Be accessible but not meddlesome. The first approach should be from the delegate.Toggle Content
Keep an eye on your delegate’s progress without intruding. If warranted, set up in advance checkpoints for reporting progress. As the delegate gains confidence, tactfully withdraw—but remain alert for problems and help if neededToggle Content
Be appreciative of a job well done by recognizing good work privately and publicly. Sincere recognition will increase your effectiveness in working through others.
Review the project upon completion to make sure your delegate has also gained from the task. See delegation as part of the process of planned growth for your staff. Through delegation, they grow in confidence, and they —and your organization— will benefit in the long run.