How to Delegate Effectively

How to Delegate Effectively

Not to be confused with dumping; delegation is one of the most effective tools in the leader’s tool kit.

In our experience as consultants, performance issues with staff often occur due a manager having an unskilled approach to delegation. They set direct reports up to fail by not thinking through the tasks / function / responsibility.

They don’t articulate their criteria for success, delegate the appropriate amount of authority required to complete the task or agree milestones. As a result, the task is not completed to the managers satisfaction and the employee is held responsible for its failure.

effective delegation

Do you…

…find your employees are not taking responsibility?

…find yourself being constantly interrupted by requests for help?

…see deadlines being missed?

…regularly find yourself working overtime on tasks “only you can do”?

…frequently have to get involved in tasks assigned to your staff?

…question staff decisions?

…constantly redo staff work that is not up to the required standard?

If every person had sufficient time, energy and ability, they could quite possibly, do everything themselves. In such circumstances there would be little need for teams, for people to work together or to share workload. The need to delegate would not exist.

The typical manager, however, tends to be overloaded with work and short of time. It is virtually impossible for a manager to have the knowledge or experience to perform every task equally well. As a result, delegation is an essential tool in the manager’s tool kit  When used effectively it can empower organisations and improve performance.

In theory, delegating a task or project should be relatively straightforward. You simply assign a task to a team member or team, agree on milestones and some kind of measurement system, monitor progress, and provide feedback to the individual when the task is complete. However, the ways in which you engage with people in each of these four steps can be quite different.

There is a huge gulf between effective delegation and ineffective delegation; resulting in very different outcomes.

In our experience, many performance issues with staff originate from ineffective delegation. The staff member is effectively set up to fail because the manager doesn’t take the time to carefully plan the task. For example, they have unrealistic expectations or do not provide sufficient support or training.

Another example, is that they do not delegate sufficient authority for the individual to complete the task. When the direct report does not complete the task to the appropriate standard they are held accountable. It is seen as a lack of ability, effort or commitment on their part. When a complicated task is delegated well and is completed successfully, the reverse happens. The staff member increases in confidence and their self-esteem grows. Your increased confidence allows you to delegate tasks to them, allowing you to focus on important leadership tasks.

Effective delegation saves you time, develops people, helps to build skills, develop future leaders and increase employee engagement.

Ineffective delegation has the potential to confuse and de-motivate your direct report, creating stress for you, and failure to achieve the task.

Delegation should be used wisely and is not always the most appropriate solution to a business challenge. In our experience it can often be used for the wrong reasons.

For example:

> Disliking aspects of your job (and using delegation to get out of it)

> Lacking the skills to execute your job properly (and hoping someone else will rescue
you)

> Punishing someone you don’t like

Taking the time to develop your delegation skills will yield substantial dividends for you, your
team and your organisation’s bottom line.

It’s important to remember that when you are delegating decisions to others, you are still
ultimately responsible.

> The role and accountability of the person being delegated should be clear to all
parties

> Delegated responsibilities and tasks should be regularly reviewed

There may be situations when you need to reassess a staff member’s ability to complete an assignment successfully. In most cases, your employee will be able to work through his or her difficulties with your assistance.

> Don’t just jump to resolve the situation

> Provide positive feedback for the work completed so far

> Work with the employee assess the situation

> Reaffirm your belief in their ability to do the job

> Allow them to come up with a solution to the challenge

> Provide coaching, if required

> Offer additional resources (if available) to provide assistance

> Help the employee solve their problems without allocating any blame for difficulties

Organisational success is determined by many aspects and one of those vital elements is managers and leaders being able to delegate effectively.

We offer a bespoke service called “Outstanding Leaders Programme” which enables us to help each manager and leader understand their strengths and own unique skills. Our bespoke training programs help managers to understand the impact of their leadership style and improve techniques and if ineffective delegation is a particular issue this is something we can help address and improve.

If you believe ineffective delegation is proving to be a drawback within your organisation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us to discuss how we can help you improve and lead from the front.