How to Delegate Effectively
by Gregory P. Smith
Effective delegation is an important tool that some managers hesitate to
use. This may result from inexperience with delegation particularly for a
novice manager, a reluctance to release work one personally enjoys doing,
or even an adherence to the old adage, “If you want something done right,
do it yourself.”
Here are eight basic guidelines to help you delegate more effectively:
1. Determine what you will delegate.
You decide which task(s) you want to delegate. Keep in mind that delegating
is different from simply assigning someone a task that is already a part of
the normal job requirements. When you delegate, you give someone else one
of your job tasks; but you maintain control and responsibility.
2. Clarify the results you want.
Determine the results you consider necessary for successful completion of
the task. In general, the employee to whom you delegate uses his or her own
methods to accomplish the task. If you expect use of a specific method to
accomplish results, relate that to the employee at the beginning.
3. Clearly define the employee’s responsibility.
You, not the employee, determine the level of responsibility. Be sure the
employee understands that level. After you have given the employee the information
about the delegated task, ask him to tell you his understanding of both the
task and goals. If the employee’s answers do not match your expectations,
review the matter in detail again.
4. Communicate the employee’s authority over the delegated
Define the scope and degree of authority given to the employee for the delegated
task. Explain which decisions he or she may make independently and which require
your approval. Be specific. If you tell the employee, “Do whatever it takes,”
you may end up with an unpleasant surprise if the employee violates company
standards. However, a too-limited authority may stop the employee from accomplishing
the task. Give the employee the authority necessary to accomplish the task
but not so much authority that he or she can create a major disaster before
anyone discovers the problem. Also, make clear the budget available and budgetary
5. Be sure the employee understands his or her authority.
Again, have the employee repeat back to you his or her understanding of authority
regarding the task. Resolve any misunderstandings at the beginning.
6. Establish a time limit.
Time means different things to different people. If you want the delegated
work completed within a certain period, make that clear to the employee. (If
you say, “When you get time, work on this,” the project may remain untouched
for weeks.) Also, if you want portions of the work completed by certain dates,
make that clear.
7. Establish a follow-up schedule.
Use a series of follow-up meetings to 1) monitor progress and 2) determine
need for assistance. Monitoring the progress avoids a discovery two days before
the due date that the task is not on schedule. It also can serve as an indication
of whether the employee needs assistance. Some employees hesitate to ask questions.
They fear the manager will interpret this as a sign of weakness or inadequacy
for the job. Follow-up meetings give them the opportunity to ask questions
within the context of a meeting designed for that purpose. The frequency of
follow-up meetings will vary from project to project and employee to employee.
You may schedule more frequent meetings when delegating to a new employee
than when delegating to an experienced and proven employee.
8. Stick to the delegation program; avoid “reverse” delegation.
An employee may try to “dump” the delegated task back on the manager. A manager
may feel tempted to “take it back” if the employee seems to be struggling
with the task. In extreme circumstances, a manager may have no alternative
other than to take the task back in order to avoid permanent damage to his
or her own performance record. However, this should be only in extreme cases.
When you take back a delegated task, the employee loses the opportunity to
learn and grow. This can also discourage the employee who desired to do well,
but needed more assistance at that point in time. Occasionally an employee
may decide to perform poorly in order to avoid additional work; do not encourage
this attitude. Stick to your decision and work with employees to see the task
Managers delegate work not to just relieve their workload, but to allow the
employees they supervise to grow professionally. Effective delegation is a
two-way discussion and understanding. Be clear about the delegated task, give
employee(s) an opportunity to ask questions, monitor progress and offer assistance
as needed. Use effective delegation to benefit both yourself and the person
to whom you delegate.
Gregory P. Smith is a retention expert and shows businesses how to build
productive work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce.
He is the author of the book, Here
Today Here Tomorrow: How to Transform Your Organization from High-Turnover
to High-Retention. He speaks at conferences, conducts management
training and is the President of a management consulting firm called Chart
Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464
or visit http://www.chartcourse.com
by Gregory P. Smith | More like this in
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