Jun 30

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Improve your Capacity with Effective Delegation

Busy ManIn the article, 8 – The Law of Intuition, I discussed the importance of delegation to improve your capacity to get things done, improve your leadership, and to grow the leadership ability of other people. This article provides additional detail about this critical leadership skill.

Delegation is a vital managerial tool that increases productivity and builds employees. Numerous authors provide several common techniques for accomplishing successful delegation. The techniques are easily traced to the four fundamentals of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Implicit in the techniques are keys skills that underlie the success. This article provides some insight on delegation and some tips to increase your delegation effectiveness.

The Chartered Management Institute (2000) states, “Delegation is about entrusting others with appropriate responsibility and authority for the operation and/or accomplishment of certain activities.” Many companies believe in the development of employees especially when an employee shows promise as a future leader. Many employers develop employees in several ways such as providing educational assistance, on-the-job training, and challenging job assignments. One method for providing challenging job assignments is to delegate managerial responsibilities.

Delegating managerial responsibilities provides two important benefits. First, delegation provides managers the opportunity to spread workload across multiple people. Sharing the workload affords the manager the option to accomplish more tasks, thereby, increasing the productivity of the department. The manager who demonstrates effective delegation exhibits true leadership. Second, delegation provides an opportunity to provide training for future leaders. When a manager effectively delegates workload, he or she teaches important leadership skills and, at the same time, instills a sense of confidence in those led.

Pollock (2003) provides seven secrets of successful delegation.
1. Delegate the right function
2. Plan the delegated job
3. Establish standard
4. Include feedback procedures
5. Pick the right person
6. Document the assignment
7. Give the assignment

These tasks include what Bateman and Snell (2004) argue are necessary for successful delegation: allocation of responsibility, authority, and accountability.

Most companies implement some form of a performance management system to document the tasks allocated to employees. During the planning cycle, the manager and employee document the task, the desired outcomes, and identify potential roadblocks. The authority delegated to the employee is often implicit in the desired outcome but rarely stated explicitly. The authority typically includes the ability to organize and use resources to accomplish the task. The best managers mentor the employees, when necessary, to ensure the employees’ success. Using the performance management system offers the opportunity to document accomplishments or provide corrections on a regular basis. The checkpoints provide a control mechanism that ensures managers communicate with employees.

Any system, when evaluated for effectiveness, has opportunities for improvement. A company’s performance management system is a tool and is only as effective as the manager and employee using it. Each manager and employee should seriously plan and document the delegated tasks. Many times the tasks are documented generically to avoid reworking effort when goals change, diminishing the overall effectiveness of the system. One of the secrets of delegation success is documenting the task (Pollock, 2003), so managers can increase delegation effectiveness by effectively using the performance management tool.

Communication and coaching are two skills that increase the effectiveness of the delegation process. The employee must understand the assigned task. The manager must possess the ability to communicate tasks unambiguously. Clearly defining the boundaries of a task, without defining the method, allows the employee some creative leeway to accomplish tasks. The coaching concept is readily visible in professional sports and is applicable in the workplace. The best managers coach their employees to peak performance. Coaches use the skills of the players and integrate those skills to accomplish the team goals. Likewise, good managers use the skills of employees and integrate those skills to accomplish organizational goals.

Delegation allows a manager the platform to build and manage an organization. Rather than trying to accomplish every task alone, successfully delegating work increases productivity and demonstrates leadership skills. Delegation allows a manager to coach employees and leverage other people’s skills to accomplish organizational goals.

What others are writing
Reasons why delegation is hard for some managers
Doing More with Less – Effective Delegation

I would love to read your comments. Please share your experiences!

Bateman, T.S., Snell, S.A., (2004). Management: The New Competitive Landscape (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill/Irwin,New York, NY
Chartered Management Institute. (2000). Successful Delegation. Retrieved 7/25/2005 from InfoTrac OneFile database.
Pollock, T. (2003). Secrets of Successful Delegation. Electric Light and Power. 81(5). Retrieved 7/25/2005 from InfoTrac OneFile Database.

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