How to Delegate Properly
Delegation skills are essential to effective management. Bayt.com offers tips on how to delegate effectively.
What is delegation?
Leaders are expected to constantly concentrate their time on activities that nobody else in their team can perform. They are miracle doers, business saviors and thus, they do need to delegate. Delegation is defined in the Harvard Business Review as”the transferring of a specific duty from one person to another and includes the transfer of work as well as accountability for that work”. Delegation is an indispensable tool in a leader’s time management toolkit reflecting a leader’s calculated decision as to which tasks to do him/her self and which tasks to move forward and to whom. It allows a leader to put into effect his influence and handle his own responsibilities more effectively while simultaneously developing the skills and abilities of his team members.
What are the major benefits of delegation?
Effective delegation benefits every angle in the cohesive triangle of Organization, Leader and Employee.
The company benefits from a better overall quality of work and increased efficiencies as leaders are enabled to focus on more important corporate tasks rather than the mundane tasks and day-to-day operations, leaving knowledgeable employees to become involved in direct decision making activities related to their roles.
Time is a valuable commodity for leaders, and with proper delegation, they can enjoy more time and flexibility to focus on bigger responsibilities (such as planning and strategy), come up with new ideas and also reap the rewards of their team’s newly developed skills.
Employees benefit as delegation extends their scope of responsibility and domain of performance affording them more areas of accountability and hence more room to grow and develop new skills. This generally results in higher motivation levels, increased morale and more job satisfaction.
What are the drawbacks of poor delegation?
Poor delegation can negatively affect the overall productivity of an organization. Both leader and employee are likely to suffer. Some leaders over delegate and are prone to ‘abdicate’ all responsibility onto their team regardless of capabilities and resource constraints. Some leaders under delegate thereby giving their teams no room to grow and contribute to the welfare of the firm and creating an unsustainable workload for themselves in the process. Other leaders delegate the wrong task to the wrong person resulting in mistakes, inefficiencies and feelings of self blame and uncertainty amongst team members vis-à-vis their skills and capabilities. Organizational morale suffers, productivity drops and chaos and inefficiencies are often the result of poor delegation.
Why do some people hesitate to delegate?
Some leaders wrongly avoid delegation for a number of reasons. One is the dread of being perceived as indolent. Another is reluctance to take risks; many subscribe to the belief that if one needs to get something done right, they should do it themselves. Another is insecurity, the fear of cultivating team members who are better equipped and more capable and will outshine the leader. Familiarity is another; often when a leader knows how to accomplish a certain task proficiently, regardless of how easy or hard it is, he/she prefers to proceed with it him/herself, rather than pass it on to a team member since not only does it ensure him/her successful results but also saves explanation time and effort. The latter of course is a misconception. Leaders, more often than not, overlook the fact that a task explanation will take them time only once or twice, a fair cost to invest vis-à-vis the greater long term benefits ensured through delegation.
When to delegate and to whom?
Many things should be taken into consideration by the leader/ manager before the delegation p rocess takes place.
- The task: Is it a really a task that is wisely delegated to another team member or is it a crucial or sensitive corporate task that requires the manager/ leader’s full attention and time? How much of the task can reasonably be delegated?
- The individual: Does he/she have the know-how and background needed in order to perform the task successfully? And will this task provide him/her with the opportunity to develop their skills and aptitudes? Does this project, task or responsibility align with his/her long term interests? Moreover, does his/her workload allow the additional task to be taken over?
- Time: Delegating tasks effectively necessitates the availability of sufficient time to hand over the task from leader to team member: time for proper training, time for questions and answers and time for trial under the supervision of the leader. This is why it is always advisable to delegate tasks within a reasonable timeframe and to delegate tasks that are repetitive in the long run.
Bayt.com’s recommendations to successful delegation:
To sum up, a few guidelines from Bayt.com to direct you towards successful and effective delegation that is a win-win proposition for all:
- Be lucid about your expectations. State your desired end results to your team members clearly.
- Identify your team members’ lines of authority and accountability. Explain the boundaries they should abide by when taking over this task.
- Give team members the power to choose the tasks they most relate to and delegate these tasks to them. Being involved in the delegation process is an instant self confidence booster for team members.
- Delegate to the convenient organizational level (those who are closest to the task on an everyday work basis are most likely to succeed at doing it)
- Delegate to team members who are equipped to handle the work. Make sure you are confident of their abilities to take on the new task and achieve the desired results.
- Be supportive. Keep an open-door policy for team members to come to you with their questions and uncertainties about the delegated task. Be communicative, encouraging and patient. They might not get the task done as fast as you do, but they will get there eventually with time and practice.
- Provide recognition when well earned. Increase your team members’ commitment by explaining the positive impact of the delegation process in terms of both the company success and their own skills building.
- Don’t abdicate. Do not just give broad guidelines and get busy with your own work assuming your team will achieve the required results. Progress reviews, updates and coaching meetings must be scheduled to ensure the task/project is advancing correctly and on schedule.
William Knight, author and writer in the Guardian is quoted as saying ”As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.” Poor delegation is an expensive exercise and organizations are well advised to train their managers in effective delegation skills to avoid the common misperceptions, pitfalls and mistakes.
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