Delegation : Basic Managerial Skills; V3 Issue 3

Delegation typically is the assignment of authority and responsibility by a manager to his/her subordinate to carry out specific activities. The manager remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work. Delegation empowers the subordinate to make decisions. As a manager, delegating allows you to concentrate on things that you believe require your personal knowledge/skill and helps you raise your subordinate’s level of knowledge/skill.

Tips for Effective Delegation

  •  Select the right person for the job. The person should be qualified to deliver the results or experience learning from taking on this task which the company can draw on at a later time.
  •  Explain the reasons: Why is the job being delegated. Why to that person? What is its importance and relevance? Where does it fit in the overall scheme of things? What's in it for him/her?
  •  Delegate the entire job to one person and give them full authority: This will heighten the individual's interest in the project and provide a deeper sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when the task is completed. Although the ultimate responsibility lies with you, when you delegate something to someone, be sure that others know that you've given the responsibility and authority to that individual, and that he/she is accountable for producing the result.
  •     Focus on results: When assigning a project, allow the person to develop the methodology for how to achieve the goal. Focus on what you want, not how to do it. That way the individual feels a greater sense of ownership for achieving the results.
  •     Involve the person while delegating: Don't do all the talking. Encourage subordinate’s suggestions and comments. Instead of just asking "Do you understand?", ask questions such as, "Any ideas as to how you'll proceed?" etc. State required results and establish deadlines, parameters, conditions and terms before you delegate: 
  •       What must be achieved? Explain what success looks like so he/she has a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Make sure they know how you will decide that the job is being successfully done. Don't leave due dates uncertain or open-ended. State parameters etc up front and do not impose controls after you've delegated.
  •     Periodically review: Keep track of the status of the project without micromanaging. Ask the person to report progress on specific dates you've agreed upon.
  •     Give positive and corrective feedback: While reviewing focus on what is right and what can be done to improve.
  •     Provide the resources required: Provide finance, use of technology tools, access to any knowledge base, necessary manpower resources etc.
  •     Offer guidance and advice without interfering: Point out potential roadblocks that they may encounter like unpredictable market or a slow to respond vendor etc.
  •     Don't let them delegate back to you: If your subordinate brings a problem to you, you can listen without assuming responsibility for solving the problem. He/she may ask you for your suggestions. You should instead ask for his/her suggestions first before making any of yours.
  •     Provide back-up and support when necessary: It could be in the form of making a discreet phone call to someone involved who is not cooperating with the person, standing in for him/her when he is tied up with something else etc.
  •     Give full credit and recognition to the person who gets the job done: Don't take the credit yourself. But if the person is unsuccessful in delivering, absorb the consequences of failure yourself.