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The Why and How of Effective Delegation

Has anyone ever told you that delegation would make you more efficient and successful at work? Are you drowning under work pressure because you need to check every detail of the work undertaken in your team? If so, it might be time to think about delegating. But how do you create effective delegation in management positions?

Assigning tasks to others helps to improve efficiency and develop the skills of other team members

Why is it critical for senior management to delegate? Firstly, the routine work can be passed on to others so that you can concentrate on high-priority tasks. Secondly, it will allow your team members to gain experience in areas related to senior positions. It will also motivate them to go the extra mile due to the trust you have shown in their capabilities. You are giving future managers a chance to gain relevant experience and advance in their career.

The three main elements of delegation

  • Responsibility – Responsibility is assigned to the team member when the task is handed over by the manager.
  • Authority – In order to effectively complete the task, the team member must have the power and autonomy to make relevant decisions. So, when the manager assigns the task they also pass on some of their authority.
  • Accountability – When taking on the responsibility, the team member is answerable for the non-completion of the task. This creates a willingness to meet the requirements set before them and show the senior that they were the right person for the task.

On several occasions, I have observed managers who are reluctant to delegate to their team members. Familiar expressions include “They cannot handle it”, “Ultimately I will have to do it myself, so I might as well just get to it when I have time” and “ If they get to do my tasks, how am I relevant?”. It is definitely true that not all tasks can be assigned to others, for example politically sensitive tasks or performance-related actions. However, there are ample routine tasks such as reporting, project updates or organizing events, that can be assigned to others who will welcome such a challenge.

Ask yourself these questions when figuring out which tasks to delegate:

  • How urgent is the task? Do you have the time to instruct a team member on how the task needs to be done and wait for its completion?
  • What are the skills required for the task? Can you earmark someone in your team who can handle the responsibility?
  • What is the risk element in delegating the task? How critical is it to your standing in the company? Tasks, where mistakes cannot be made, are better done by oneself.

The step-by-step process for successful delegation

Once you have calculated the time, expertise and risk of delegating the task, create a customized delegation process which can be communicated clearly to your team member. You need to establish your working style, reporting style, and how much authority you are willing to cede.

The next task is to identify the team member best suitable for the role. You should then provide detailed information on the assignment, how the task is relevant to the organization and who will rely on the results.

You should be very clear and concise when setting expectations. Communicate the key points or information you need as well as the benchmarks for evaluation of the progress. It is important to make clear that you are open to offering assistance and guidance but will not be hand-holding during the process. Encourage the team member to come to you with at least one solution to any problem encountered. Lastly, do not attempt to take back the task as soon as it hits the first hurdle. It is the responsibility of the person who has taken the task to complete it perfectly.

Follow these tips to allow you to empower your team, and at the same time clear up your own work schedule.



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