How to delegate properly?

Most managers sooner or later face the fact that there is not enough time for every task. One way to solve this problem is delegation, but not always executives resort to this method.

There are three main reasons: doing yourself is always faster than explaining, there is no certainty that the employee will do everything properly or fear that the employee will refuse.

It’s important to understand that delegation in the long run frees up time, although at first it really takes more. Employees while gaining experience will gradually be able to qualitatively perform tasks of any level. In addition, delegation has other advantages: the head can calmly get sick or go on vacation, knowing that employees are able to cope with any challenge, the team will become stronger and more loyal, seeing that the leader trusts them. A strong and independent team means a strong leader.

If there is no habit of delegating, a leader and employees are not used to such tasks, you can start doing it gradually: starting with a full and detailed explanation how to do the task, then gradually offer the employee to figure out a problem, to propose a solution himself/herself, to accept it himself/herself – and so bring to a state where employees will perform tasks entrusted to them on their own from start to finish.

How to delegate properly?

Process delegation can be separated into several steps.

Step 1. Task statement.

It is important to make sure that the employee clearly understands what the manager wants from him, otherwise you may get the wrong result or not get at all. How can it be understood that the task is done? What are the acceptance criteria? When is the deadline?

Let the employee retell the task and result that is expected in his/her own words. If the task was delegated as part of a meeting, responsible person and the date must be indicated in “Minutes of meeting”, otherwise the task has risk of being forgotten or lost.

Depending on situation it is necessary to decide who will determine how the problem will be solved: supervisor, employee himself/herself or someone else? In the ideal case, the employee must determine the way to solve the problem, only then he/she will truly believe in the decision and bear responsibility for it. This is not always possible, but you need gradually strive for this, you can start with simple questions “How would you do this task? ”, if the answer doesn’t suit you – neatly in the style of coaching lead to the right decision by the questions “What will happen if … because …” and “How would we … because …”.

Step 2. Motivation.

The employee must understand why the task is important, why is the manager and/or business need it and why does the employee need it? For example, the head wants to delegate the writing of reports to the employee. In this case it is necessary to emphasize why these reports are needed, how the business will suffer if the reports are not done on time or are made wrongly, and how the preparation of these reports will help the employee to grow and develop. The task should be given as if with reluctance, as something valuable (“I trust you an important function/task”), and not as a routine, you need to give it a meaning.

Step 3. Define the authority and area of ​​responsibility.

What the employee has the right to decide by himself/herself, and what should he/she coordinate? Will he/she have the necessary authority? What if the task depends on someone else and this someone does not fulfill his role? Will there be any reward for fulfillment or punishment for non-fulfillment?

Step 4. Discuss the frequency and format of control.

If an employee has successfully completed a similar task many times, you can accept the task at completion and if there are risks of failure It’s worth laying a temporary buffer for these risks and checking the task in advance.

Periodic and phased types of control are often applied when delegating functions: through equal intervals or by work phases, for example, regular meetings and/or reports.

In extreme cases, if it is impossible to verify all the work or distrust of the employee is extremely high, a selective type of control is suitable when the manager makes random checks at random times in a random place. Use this type of control carefully, as it causes employees to feel distrust and micromanagement.

Important! If the frequency and format of the control are not discussed in advance, then any type of control will be perceived as selective.

What if an employee resists delegation?

In this case It’s important to figure out if this is a constructive resistance. If there really are reasons to resist, for example, employee does not have enough time/resources, he/she doesn’t know how to do this type of task and has never done them before, it is worth to think together how these problems can be solved – to train an employee, provide him/her additional resources, prioritize his/her tasks or something else.

If resistance is destructive, then you need to clarify whether the employee refuse to complete the task? And give one more chance for constructive objections – are there any serious reasons? At this stage deeper motives can reveal, for example, an employee does not understand why this task should be done, he/she has past negative experience or he is afraid of punishment in case of failure.

If you still can’t achieve constructive discussion – you can give the task in a directive style, not allowing you to put yourself on the role of asking: “What makes you think that in our company you can refuse the task set by the supervisor?”, you can even do it in writing with signature. I want to note that this is completely extreme case and in most cases means deep crisis in relations of manager with an employee, that is requiring urgent action, but this is a completely different story.

Remember!

  1. Delegation frees up time and promotes the growth of a strong team
  2. Tasks should contain acceptance criteria and deadline
  3. A positive meaning has to be given
  4. Authority and areas of responsibility should be defined
  5. Frequency and format of control should be discussed
  6. Objections should be properly processed

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