Management Skills – How to Use Delegation to Your Advantage

September 30, 2011 by  Filed under: Management 

Delegation is an important skill that every manager should learn. Effective delegation is more than just assigning tasks to your staff. You must first evaluate and prioritize the work yourself. Once you have established the priorities, then you must determine which tasks can be properly assigned to someone else. You will need to ask yourself questions like: Do they have the training to handle the task? Are they able to work semi-independently? What resources will they need? What level of authority are you willing to give them? Once you have thought about the answers, then and only then can you delegate work to your people. Good delegation will begin with a meeting to assign the task and define the outcomes. The people who work for you will want to know what is expected of them, and what a successful outcome will look like. Once you have assigned the task, then you will want to schedule a follow-up meeting to either check on progress, or close out the task as a completed action. If you can master the art of effective delegation, then you will be a more effective manager. Here are a few ways that you can use delegation to your advantage:

Expand the amount of work that can be done & build capacity: Everyone has a limit to the amount of work that they can accomplish. After all, there are only so many working hours in a day; however, using effective delegation, managers can expand the total amount of work that can be done by assigning tasks to others on their team. Struggling managers often feel compelled to do much of the work themselves by invoking the old adage, “if you want the job done right, then do it yourself.” Effective managers know that others are also capable of doing good work too, and they build capacity to get more work done by effectively delegating some of their work to others.

Train others to be self-reliant & build bench strength: Delegating work is not only a way to get more work done, but also a way to train people and build bench strength. When managers assign work to others, they provide them with opportunities to learn. If someone is new to a task, then managers need to schedule a few more follow-up meetings to coach them and provide periodic guidance. Managers will also need to make sure that they have assigned the right level of decision-making authority. Remember this: Managers can delegate authority but they can’t delegate responsibility. Thus, if you allow someone on your team to make a decision, then be prepared to be responsible for the consequences. Thus, if someone doesn’t have the right level of experience, then have them make a recommendation so that as the manager, you can make the decision together with them. On the other hand, if they have experience, then as a manager, you can delegate the task and the decisions. Then simply have them report back after the task is completed. Over time, people will become more self-reliant and the team will be stronger.

Reduce stress level & focus on what needs your attention: When managers use delegation, then they will reduce their own stress level and find time to focus on only what they can do. Using delegation, managers can free up some of their own time. This will allow them to focus on what they need to do. Some tasks are only solved by manager intervention, because only the manager has the appropriate authority or resources to get the task done. Finding time to do these tasks will reduce the amount of stress, and increase the effectiveness of the manager.

Thus, good managers are good at the art of delegation. They use delegation to get more work done, train others, and be more effective. If you are a manager and not delegating work to your staff, you need to evaluate how you can use delegation to your advantage. Practice the art of delegation and you too can become a more effective manager.

Leonard Kloeber is an author and leadership consultant. He has extensive leadership experience as business executive and as a military officer. He has been a hands-on leader in a variety of organizations large and small. Most recently he was a human resources executive for a Fortune 100 company. His book – Victory Principles, Leadership Lessons from D-Day – illustrates seven bedrock leadership principles that all successful leaders use. Download a free summary of the Victory Principles at: http://www.victoryprinciples.com and find other bonus materials for leaders. Contact him at staffride@gmail.com or find his book Victory Principles at http://www.leadershipthebook.com

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