Managers who realize the power of delegation are likely more to be effective in their jobs. Some managers avoid delegation either because they believe it is easier to do the job themselves or that the job won’t get done correctly. What they fail to realize is that delegation provides the opportunity to get more work done while at the same time empowering, motivating and developing employees. The key to successful delegation is knowing which tasks are suitable for delegating, which employees are receptive and procedures for effectively delegating. Tasks that are routine, developmental and require minor decisions are worth delegating.
Routine tasks are ideal for delegation because they are performed regularly with little variation. For example, monthly status reports usually require the same type of information in an established format. A manager can give an employee the format, explain information requirements and provide a list of information sources. Given the right direction, employees with good writing skills can compile the report correctly. The manager can provide a previous report as an example and quality control guide. The first time out, employees should be give adequate time to complete a first draft and make revisions.
Over the course of a work day, managers make many decisions. Some decisions can be easily delegated to employees with adequate boundaries established. For example, a purchasing manager can delegate regularly occurring minor purchasing decisions to a subordinate in her absence as long as guidelines are established on the type and cost of the expenditure. In a manufacturing environment, a quality assurance manager can delegate a level of authority to an experienced technician regarding minor decisions on quality acceptance or rejection.
Many employees will welcome the opportunity to grow and develop their skills and knowledge to further their careers. Tasks that provide them the opportunity to learn a new skill can and should be delegated. For example, an employee who wants to progress to a management position may be receptive to working on a task that may stretch them a bit but is within their ability to comprehend. An experienced employee could attend a staff meeting for their manager or deliver a project presentation to the management team on her manager's behalf.
Managers can successfully delegate tasks to employees if they follow a series of steps designed to clarify the process. First, managers need to be clear on the task needing completion and operational constraints. Next, they need to consider the skills and abilities of employees and make sure the task is a match with skill sets. When delegating, the manager must confirm the employee’s understanding of what’s required and acceptable performance standards. Finally, the manager must be available if the employee has questions or needs assistance.
There are certain tasks that are not conducive to delegation. This includes any matters related to discipline, emergency tasks where there is no time to discuss and explain what’s needed and tasks where the employee is lacking in skill sets or qualifications. Also, managers should not delegate tasks that are specifically assigned to them by their boss. Delegating these types of tasks will only backfire for both the manager and the employee.
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