It has been proven time and again that delegation benefits not only junior team members but also the team leader. It pushes the leader higher up the chain of management. Delegation allows leaders to have more time and energy at their disposal for more important tasks. Because they are not overburdened, they emerge as more effective leaders. Their staff members gain skill and confidence, too. This is how organizations grow and excel.
The question the team leader must ask is “What should I delegate?” Usually, we delegate what we have mastered. As managers, we must learn to identify talent. Newfound talent won’t disappoint. Allow the person to whom you delegate a task to perform and make decisions, but you, as the manager, must review his or her performance. A good manager will never relinquish responsibility. Continuous motivation and guidance of one’s staff is what makes a good manager.
Why do many of us choose not to delegate? Perhaps we cannot survive without being too busy. Perhaps we cannot give up control. Perhaps we believe that we can only manage one task at a time. The truth is there are individuals within our own organizations who can do as well as, or even better than, us. Another uncomfortable truth is that many managers are aware of this but ignore it.
Sometimes delegation fails. The work may not have been explained properly. The manager may have interfered too much. The wrong person may have been chosen. Regardless of the cause, it is the manager who is responsible for delegation failure. Flaws can still be rectified. Sincere praise can do wonders. Reassigning the task to the right person can still save the project. I usually choose a person who I think will enjoy the assignment and who seems willing to work hard on it.
It is a good idea to delegate small assignments initially. Once these have been completed satisfactorily, increase the quantity and complexity of the projects. This will not only simplify the system but also boost the morale of junior staff members. It will also give them a sense of achievement. The supervisor’s role is to pinpoint the best way to carry out the task.
If we ignore a junior staff member’s concerns, we will not be able to do either the work or the person justice. Once I delegate, I encourage the person to whom I have assigned the task to revise goals as he or she progresses through the assignment. I also set deadlines. This helps workers build responsibility and remain aware of the significance of their tasks. Throughout the process, we must interact freely with the person who has been assigned work.
Here are a few tips that can facilitate skillful delegation:
- Delegate the whole assignment to one person. It will increase the individual’s interest in the project and provide a deeper sense of achievement on completion of the work.
- Assess the capabilities of subordinates and assign the task to the most appropriate one.
- Always clarify the “big picture.”
- Don’t underestimate an individual’s potential. At the same time, don’t keep your expectations so high they are unreachable.
- Do your homework before you delegate. Specify clearly the terms and limitations of the assignment from the start. Additions and deletions at a later stage may create confusion.
- Evaluate outcome, not method.
- Give credit for success to the person to whom the work was delegated, and own responsibility for failure.