Delegation- An Art!!!

A lot of managers and supervisors frequently complain that they have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. Unchecked, this feeling leads to stress and ineffectiveness. In many cases, executives could greatly reduce their stress by practicing a critical management skill – delegation. It is the key that allows you to spend more time managing and less time on repetitive, non-essential tasks. Delegation also prepares you to be delegated to…Preparing you for greater responsibility and higher levels of experience.

The more you can successfully delegate, the more time you will have to spend on the challenges that only you can navigate for your company.

Historically, delegation has been a vertical process, with managers delegating to subordinates in a clearly defined hierarchical structure. Today’s successful businesses are emphasizing both horizontal and vertical delegation. With the growing emphasis on teamwork, the ability to influence and delegate to others over whom you have no direct control is critical to the team’s success.

Further, delegation trains others for the opportunity to move into your job when you are on vacation or for other reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it prepares your possible replacement for the time when you are ready to move up or out for more responsibility. Delegation may be the most important skill a manager can develop.

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. Delegation is not abdication. The manager still has the ultimate accountability for the assignment. That’s why it is important for you to establish appropriate controls and checkpoints to monitor progress. Besides, managers should give delegatees the appropriate authority to act along with clear expectations including any boundaries or criteria. The manager, however, should try to avoid prescribing HOW the assignment should be completed.

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.

Delegation must be accompanied by effective coaching. Delegation will not be effective unless managers and other designated supervisors and coaches work with employees to help them develop the skills needed to get the job done. Effective delegation also requires good communication and a high degree of trust between the delegator and the delegatee.

Delegation is not “dumping.” Managers should take special care to make sure that the employee does not think he is trying to “dump” unpleasant assignments on him. If delegation is not done properly, employees feel put upon and resent what they perceive as ‘I’ve to follow the boss’s order ’.

Be supportive while delegating it is very important to have 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.

You must be sure that your subordinate takes ownership of this project. Encourage them to search for solutions to the problems that inevitably come up, and be available to answer questions. They should be aware that the responsibility for the assignment’s completion belongs to them.

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 time frame and to delegate tasks that are repetitive in the long run.

The process of delegation accomplishes two tasks that are essential to becoming a better manager. The first is that it gets your desk clear for you to perform more managerial and fewer clerical or routine tasks. Second, it creates an opportunity for you to interact with your employees on a less structured and routine basis, opening the door for more motivational interactions and training. Needless to say, there is no effective delegation without proper follow-up. You will need to evaluate the improvement in your delegation skills on an ongoing basis.