A common definition of delegation is entrusting power and authority to a person acting as your representative. Another way to define delegation is by getting your work done through other people. However, it’s more than simply assigning work. Delegation also involves making an investment in a person for their future by helping them increase their own skills.
Effective delegation is one of the most valuable skills you can master. It reduces your workload and develops others’ skills. Delegating prepares employees who work for you to be able to handle your responsibilities and simultaneously allows you to advance other opportunities within your organization. Effective delegation is often one of the hardest skills for a manager to master. However, the skill can be learned.
Disadvantages/Reasons Why You Don’t Delegate
Delegation doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, you should consider what level of delegation is appropriate for the task, the employee, and the situation. An overview of the five levels of delegation are described in the graphic below.
1. Know Your Employees’ Abilities.
It is important to know the members of your team. It might be useful to inventory their skills and survey them regarding their interests. This makes it easier to delegate the right tasks to the right person. Remember the goal of delegation is to accomplish more in less time but also to develop your employees and maximize their strengths. You should also consider each employee’s motivation and workload when deciding to delegate a task.
2. Great Communication is Necessary for Successful Delegation.
Communication is so important to the delegation process! You must clearly explain why the job is important. In addition, you should describe in detail what results are expected and when the task needs to be completed. Finally, ask for feedback to ensure common understanding.
3. Decide What Level of Authority You Are Willing to Give the Employee.
You want to give each employee some freedom in deciding how to accomplish the task. The authority and responsibility may be different for everyone. For some, it may mean performing the task only as instructed. For others, it might mean outlining options and then offering a recommendation. For still others, it might mean performing the task independently with little or no supervision.
4. Do Not Expect Perfection the First Time.
Remember you should not expect others to do the job as well as you can. Realize the delegated task may be a time for them to learn and grow. Be sure to offer coaching and feedback for the next time.
5. Establish a Follow-Up Process for Monitoring Progress.
How much control or monitoring may depend on the individual’s experience and motivation. The type of working relationship you have with the person might also be a factor. Finally, the importance of the task is very essential.
On a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is poor and 10 is excellent), how would you rate your ability to delegate? What can you do differently to become more effective?
About the Author
Craig Gerdes is an innovative education and training professional with extensive experience in a variety of leadership roles and in various settings all aimed at helping adult students succeed.