How to Delegate Effectively

Managers get things done through other people. They delegate primarily because it makes their job easier. If they try to do everthing themselves, they become unnecessarily burdened; their performance and health deteriorate; they fail to develop their staff adequately; and in time the organization will suffer. Indeed, many believe that the ability to delegate is the main feature that distinguishes good from bad managers. Knowing how to delegate is, therefore; a crucial management and leadership skill.

From your prioritized jobs, select one to delegate: List in priority order those tasks you might consider delegating. To qualify for this list, a task should be:

  • taking too much of your time
  • not stricly relatd to your key role,
  • rather routine,
  • appropriate and chanllenging for another staff member, or,
  • better undertaken by someone with more appropriate skills or know-how than yours,

Define clearly for yourself the task to be delegated; Clarify in your own mind the task to be delegated. Think through each task so that you are clear about;

  • expected results or product,
  • how the task might be approached,
  • subtasks within the overal task,
  • limits of authority,
  • necessary timelines,
  • how you will know the task is done,
  • resources required,
  • necessary training.

Understand the task fully yourself so that later you will be able to thoroughly brief a staff member.

Select the right person for the job; As a good manager, you should be aware of the strengths and limitations of your staff and delegate accordingly. The ideal choice should have the ability, knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, talent, and time needed to get the job done. Unfortunately, such qualities are not always found in the person; so before selecting someone, ask yourself;

  • who has the necessary skills?
  • who would be most challenged?
  • who would be learn most? Who would benefit least?
  • Does the task require previous experience? Will training be needed?
  • What particular personal qualities are needed? Who has them?
  • Who can be trusted to do the job?
  • What other workload does that person have?
  • Is more than one person needed? If so, can they work together successfully?
  • Who would enjoy a job like this? How will others react?

Delegation to the right person should improve skills, morale, and esteem.

Conduct a thorough briefing; In handing over the assignment, be prepared to set aside adequate time in private to clearly communicate:

  • the scope of the task,
  • specific results requried,
  • time schedule and deadlines,
  • available resources,
  • the authority needed to carry out the jobs,
  • how performance can be measured,
  • sensitive or risky aspects of the task,
  • reporting procedures,
  • your confidence in the person you select.

Ask for feedback and encourage questions to eliminate any confusion.

Define clearly for yourself the task to be delegated; When you give people a job, ensure you tell them how much authority you are handing over. Three prossibilities are;

  • “Look inot the problem; suggest three solutions; and I’ll choose the best.”
  • “Look into the problem; tell me how you plan to slove it; and do so unless I tell you otherwise.”
  • “Solve the problem and tell me when you’re finished.”

Set parameters and establish controls to ensure this authority and the accompanying power will be properly used. If necessary, inform other relevant staff.

Keep lines of communication open; When you delegate, you do not abdicate responsibility. You must maintain some control over the project. At the very least, agree to have your delegate inform you only when things are not going according to plan. Be accessible but not meddlesome. The delegate should make the first contact.

Monitor progress unobtrusively; Keep eye on your delegate’s progress without intruding. If necessary, confirm in advance how often progress is to be reported. As the delegate gains confidence, tactfully withdraw but remain alert for problems. Help if aksed to do so.

Reward performance; Appreciate a job well done by reconizing good work privately and publicly. Sincere recognition will increase your effectiveness in working with others.

Delegate as part of a master plan; Review the project on its completion to make sure your delegate has also gained from the task. See delegation as part of the planed growth of your staff. Through delegation, they grow in confidence; and they and your organization will benefit in the long run.


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