What would happen if you did not delegate? Everything and everyone may suffer because you would not have time to devote to them. Various tasks would not get completed, such as: planning and organizing, departmental budgeting, scheduling of work, and coaching, among other things.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I can do it more quickly and efficiently?” Do you have a fear of someone else doing a better job than you, or not trusting people to do a good job? Are some tasks just more personally rewarding and difficult to give up? Overcoming these barriers to delegation results in more time for critical tasks, confident and challenged workers, increased collaboration, increased quality and increased productivity, to name a few. All of which will add value to the bottom line of your company.
Having the right attributes and attitudes will help you to overcome the barriers to delegation. Specifically, your own personal security, the ability to be a risk-taker, having a trusting nature, being task-oriented and exhibiting ample patience will all help. Personal security means that you feel confident in your abilities and position in the company and have a positive attitude about delegating. Being a risk-taker means that you are willing to take risks to get tasks accomplished, that you stretch resources, make mistakes and are willing to accept and learn from your failures. Having a trusting nature means that you are willing to trust others to perform tasks for which they alone will be held accountable and responsible. Being task-oriented means that you establish and employ a means of control and exhibiting ample patience means that you realize that results take time and that you allow team members the chance to develop judgment by letting them try their own methods. (Source: Developing the Right Attitudes by Bob Nelson)
Delegation has proven to be a time-saving skill. It is an effective way to tap your work group’s skills and potential, it transfers responsibility and accountability to someone else, it develops people by providing opportunities for growth, it shows that you have trust in others to do a good job, and it allows you to provide support and resources, while coaching employees to do a good job. While delegation is many things, it is not assigning routine tasks, telling someone what to do, retaining full accountability for results or assigning work that you don’t want to do yourself.
Effective delegation includes transferring both responsibility and accountability for the job. Responsibility refers more to finishing the assignment and accountability refers to how well the job is done. Accountability may be thought of as a higher level of responsibility; it requires the person to understand how the delegated task fits into the “bigger picture.” The person to whom you delegate not only should be: responsible for completing the job, but also should be held accountable for the quality of the results. It is more likely that a job will be successfully done if the person doing the work is committed to the outcome.
When you are trying to decide to whom you should delegate, ask yourself the following questions:
1.) Which tasks must I handle myself and which can be delegated?
2.) Which work group members have the right skills and motivation to handle the task?
3.) Is training or coaching needed and, if so, how much and when?
Once you have answered these questions, remember that delegation requires some upfront investment in planning, a thorough explanation of the task, listening and responding to concerns, coaching of the employee and monitoring the progress. This planning is critical so that delegation is not seen as “dumping.” In addition, you need to make sure that employees have the resources and support that they need so that quality doesn’t slip and you don’t spend your time “putting out fires.”
The most important ingredient in delegation is TRUST. Expressing your trust in the person’s ability to do the job well can build confidence and increase motivation. It will also reinforce ideas, successes, and progress. Make sure too that you are especially supportive when times get tough. You have the ability to increase trust by supporting team members’ decisions even if you don’t agree. Also make sure that you don’t harp on team members’ mistakes, withhold information, manipulate, or spy on them. Be open, clarify expectations and show respect.
Keep in mind that delegation doesn’t mean losing control. The amount of control you exert depends on an individual’s ability and experience. Coaching and feedback are effective tools for controlling a delegated task and helping the person to succeed. Coaching provides guidelines and expectations for the task and clarifies the person’s level of authority. Make sure that you provide positive and corrective feedback to help monitor progress without removing responsibility and accountability.
To become a master at delegation, trust your staff, avoid seeking perfection, give effective job instructions, recognize that others have the talent and ability to complete projects, know your own true interests, consider delegation as a way to teach skills, follow-up on progress, praise the efforts of your staff, avoid crisis management, avoid reverse delegation, support your employees, delegate to the lowest possible level and don’t make it an all or nothing proposition. Becoming a master at delegation will only add to the bottom line of your company through increased productivity.
In summary, as stated by Thomas R. Harden, former CEO, American Management Association, “The process of delegation must begin by a spark of faith. Kindled by accomplishment, it is ultimately sustained by trust. Effective delegators are the managers who believe in their people as much as in themselves and who know that from belief comes not just accomplishment, but growth.” Here’s to your success in delegating for results!
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR LLC