Managers get things done through other people. This description recognizes that there are limits to any manager’s time and knowledge. Effective managers, therefore, need to understand the value of allocating task (delegating) and know how to do it.
Developing Effective Delegating Skills
A number of steps should be taken to ensure that the delegation process is handled effectively.
Clarify the Assignment
The place to begin is to determine what is to be delegated and to whom. You need to identify the person who’s most capable of doing the task and then determine whether he or she has the time and motivation to do the job.
Assuming that you have a willing and able subordinate, it’s your responsibility to provide clear information on what is being delegated, the results you expect, and any time or performance expectations you hold.
Unless there’s an overriding need to adhere to specific methods, you should delegate only the results. That is, get agreement on what is to be done and the results expected, but let the subordinate decide the means. By focusing on goals and allowing the employee the freedom to use his or her own judgment as to how those goals / are to be achieved, you increase trust between you and the employee, improve the I employee’s motivation, and enhance accountability for results.
Specify the Subordinate’s Range of Discretion
Every act of delegation comes with constraints. You’re delegating authority to act, but not unlimited authority. What you are delegating is authority to act on certain issues within certain parameters. You need to specify what those parameters are so that subordinates know, in no uncertain terms, the range of their discretion. When this has been successfully communicated, both you and the subordinate will have the same idea of the limits to the latter’s authority and how far he or she can go without further approval.
Allow the Subordinate to Participate
One of the best ways to decide how much authority will be necessary to accomplish a task is to allow the subordinate who will be held accountable for that task to participate in that decision.
Inform Others That Delegation Has Occurred
Delegation shouldn’t take place in a vacuum. Not only do the manager and subordinate need to know specifically what has been delegated and how much authority has been granted, but anyone else who’s likely to be affected by the delegation act also needs to be informed. This includes people outside the organization as well as inside it. Essentially, you need to convey what has been delegated (the task and amount of authority) and to whom. Failure to inform others makes conflict likely and decreases the chances that your subordinate will be able to accomplish the delegated task efficiently.
Establish Feedback Channels
To delegate without instituting feedback controls is inviting problems. There’s always the possibility that a subordinate will misuse the discretion that he or she has been delegated. The establishment of controls to monitor the subordinate’s progress increases the likelihood that important problems will be identified early and that the task will be completed on time and to the desired specifications.