The Art of Effective Delegation
A 5-step process by which to effectively delegate and manage delegated work.
by Andrew Cooke, Growth & Profit Solutions
Delegating effectively allows managers and leaders to free up time; ensure the work is down by the right person at the right level and on-time; helps to develop people and their capabilities; and allows the managers and leaders to focus on what is important – not just what is urgent.
Creating the Conditions & Capabilities for Delegation
For effective delegation you need to have:
- A culture which supports and allows delegation to occur
- The desire and the ability to delegate
- People with the necessary abilities and attitudes that you can delegate to.
If you lack any one of these it makes delegation difficult. As such be clear as to where you are on these factors and what you need to do to address them if necessary. Yet even if these conditions are in place many managers and leaders find it difficult to delegate. Common reasons for this include:
- Short-term thinking – it would be quicker to do it myself
- Perfectionist thinking – I can do it better myself
- Requires an investment in training/mentoring of others – I don’t have anyone I can trust to delegate it to
- I don’t know how to delegate
Key to enabling others to delegate is to understand what delegation entails. I define delegation as:
A task, for which a nominated individual(s) is given specific responsibility, to complete in part or full, by a given time to produce an expected outcome or result, and for which you will receive feedback on.
The 5 Step Delegation Process
- Identify the Task – be clear on what the actual task is that you are asking someone to complete. In doing this put a clear frame around it – what does it include and what does it exclude. Providing a clear description and understanding of this is critical.
- Nominate the Individual(s) – identify the person(s) who will be involved in the completion of the task. Be clear as to why you want them to do it (is it for personal development reasons, part of what they need to be able to do to gain promotion etcetera?), and make sure they understand this.
- Define the Responsibility – when discussing it with the nominee(s) ask them to summarise what they have understood that you want them to do – this will quickly highlight any discrepancies or misunderstandings before they can become problematic. Check that they are prepared for this responsibility and are committed to completing it within the scope and timeframes that you have determined. You also need them to be clear on your expectations as regards their completing this task and the associated results and outcomes.
- Completion – do you want them to complete the task in full, or only in part, before they report back to you on progress made. If it is an area in which they have little experience, or you have a low level of trust in their ability to do so, then get them to complete the first part before reporting back to you. This gives you a check-point to ascertain how they are progressing, what further guidance is necessary, and if they can be left to their own devices to complete the task.
- Review – establish regular times for reviewing their progress. If you are uncertain of their capabilities then you may have multiple review points during the work on the task, or you may ask them to report back once it has been completed if you have high confidence in them. Reviews should be short and you must ensure that the responsibility for the work stays with the nominee(s), otherwise you will find the work delegated back to you!
By breaking the delegation process into these 5 simple steps it makes it easier for you to delegate, for those delegated to understand what they need to do and what is expected of them, and for the work to be done in a controlled manner which allows people to grow and develop without being micro-managed. Use this with your people and see how much time and effort you free up for yourself, and how your people work more effectively.
We look further at delegation in a following article, How To Manage Those Delegated To.
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