At the end of last month’s column, “What Are Your Leadership Priorities,” I suggested:
When you finish reading this column, ask yourself, “what is required of me?”, “what gives me the greatest return?” and
“what brings the greatest reward?” Then make a list of the things you do that do not fit into one of those categories.
Those are the things you need to delegate or eliminate.
Anyone taking that advice needs to ensure that when they delegate, they do it effectively. There is a difference between delegating responsibilities and abdicating responsibilities. Delegation is when a leader assigns a personally held task, project or responsibility to someone else while maintaining accountability. Your responsibility is to see that the job is accomplished in a way that meets all standards for quality and in a timely fashion.
The question is how does one delegate effectively? The answer is “effective delegation involves a process that involves a number of components” The components of an effective delegation process include:
- Preparation for delegation
- Confirmation of understanding
- Confirmation of commitment
- Ensuing accountability
Preparation: Effective preparation to delegate includes the realization that delegation is not simply assigning someone a task or project that falls into his or her established job description. Delegation is giving someone else one of your job tasks to complete with the authority and control to complete it properly.
As I mentioned in the introduction, delegation is not abdication. As the delegator, you share accountability for the assignment, which is why checkpoints are established to monitor overall progress. Just as the outcomes of entire organization, division or unit you lead are your responsibility, you are also responsible for the ultimate success of the delegation process. This is why you establish checkpoints along the way to monitor the overall progress.
Preparation also includes determining the what you are going to delegate. In considering what to delegate start with a list of all the things that you are doing. Ask yourself these yourselves these questions:
- Is this activity or task necessary? Many organizations
have routine tasks that are performed once a week, once a month, or once every time a project is completed. Before delegating these tasks, make sure that they are necessary. Unnecessary tasks should be eliminated.
- Does this necessary activity or task have to be done by
me? If the answer is no, then delegate it. Why spend your time on tasks that do not necessarily have to be done by you and could be done better, as well, or nearly as well by someone else? Delegating these tasks could free you up to spend more time working on the things you are required to do. Keep in mind, your responsibility as a leader/manager is to ensure the organization, division or unit you are managing is getting the required activities done, not necessarily doing the activities yourself.
Preparation for delegation also includes identifying the purpose for delegation. Reasons for delegating tasks and activities to others include:
- To provide you to have more time to do the things you,
as the leader and manager, need to do. You need to delegate to make yourself more effective. That cannot always happen if you are busy doing things that others could easily do or would be willing to do.
- To provide someone with interesting work to do. If we
only delegate boring tasks, employees will feel that we are taking advantage of them. Delegating tasks which are interesting to the employee makes them not only willing to assume responsibility for that task, but more willing to assume responsibility for some of the boring tasks if they know it will encourage you to delegate things they are interested in as well.
- Because someone else could do the task Let’s
face it. There are tasks many executives do that someone else in the organization could do better. If leaders and managers will delegate to people who are more skill in that task area, not only does it enable the leader/manager to have time to work on other tasks that he/she needs to do, but it enables the organization to deliver a higher quality product.
- To provide someone with an opportunity to develop
their skills. Delegate tasks to team members who would benefit from the additional skill development. If you are already good at completing a certain task, let someone else have a chance to try it.
In addition to determining what to delegate, you need to determine to whom you should delegate. It’s important to consider the following factors when making that decision:
- Delegate to team members who have the experience to do the
job as well as team members who have potential to learn to do the job. Keep in mind sometimes you are delegating the job, task or activity to the person best qualified to do it and at other times, you are delegating the job, task or activity in order to help employees develop their skills.
- Other factors can also play in to who might be the best fit.
Sometimes attitude, personality and aptitude need to be taken into consideration.
- Consider each team member’s workload, and who has time
to take on extra responsibilities.
- Avoid delegating to the most capable or the same person on
a team all the time since it can create a lopsided workload. Those who need the experience may not get it and you can penalize your best workers by consistently giving them more assignments.
Consistent with the purpose for which you have chosen to delegate a task, you should be asking these questions.
- Who has the most skill and experience at doing something
- Who would find this task or activity interesting or satisfying?
- Who can I develop by delegating this task or activity to them?
(To be continued next month)