The art of delegating

The logic behind ‘delegating work’ is the fact that it is impossible for one person to do the job of many. You cannot get one man to accomplish what takes at least ten people and a substantial amount of time to do; whether you talk about a business or a project.

Then why don’t some managers realize the true value of delegation? Why don’t they put efforts in master this art? Perhaps they don’t understand its true purpose and aren’t fully aware of how to go about delegating work.

In this post, I’ve broken down all aspects of delegation so you can know where you stand in terms of efficient delegation, and can also brush-up on your skills. Take a look -

When should you delegate?

Before you answer the ‘when’, you need to answer ‘what’ should be delegated. Perhaps some tasks are best done by yourself. For example, if you have to give a presentation, then it’s best if you prepare it. Because if the presentation points are not your own and you don’t know what research went into it, you will never be able to explain them with confidence. There will always be a mismatch between your words and what the presentation says. Therefore, you need to first identify which tasks you can delegate.

  • See if you have enough time

Depending on the nature of the task you want to delegate, you might have to explain a lot of its details to the other person. But, do you have the time to do all that? Also, when the task is done, you might have to inspect it for accuracy. You may have to see if it’s in accordance with what you had expected. All that is going to demand some time. If you can afford to invest that time, go ahead and assign it to someone else. Otherwise, you might want to handle it on your own.

  • Look for the availability

Do you have the right personnel to do get the job done? It’s important that the expertise of the person matches the skills required to perform that particular task. If there is a mismatch between the two, chances are you will end up handling more work instead of cutting it down. Finding the right person, who is best capable of doing the job, is the prerequisites of delegation.

  • Analyse the criticality

Does the task carry low tolerance for mistakes? How important is it for the outcome of the project? Is it highly critical? Or is it something that you can correct later on for any mistakes without affecting the fate of the project? Do find an answer to that before you go ahead and delegate a task to someone. Something that carries the tag of highly critical is best done on your own. For everything else, feel free to delegate.

Things to look for while delegating

  • Explain the expectations

What is the purpose of delegating the work? What do you eventually want to achieve from it? And, with what purpose in mind should the person proceed ahead to whom the task is being delegated? If the goal is not clear, the person will never be able to tread in the right direction. Awareness and clarity of expectations is crucial. It provides a framework within which he has to act.

  • Explain their authority

You are not just handing over a piece of work. Along with that, you are giving the person some of your authority as well. Let it be known what kind of power the person can exercise during the course of time that he/she is carrying out the delegated work. It’s important to explain this point in order to foster speedy execution.

  • Describe your role

When that person is doing the job, what is going to be the manager’s role or the person who delegated the work? How are you, as a manager, going to monitor the work and the progress? At what point will you be discussing the progress? Also discuss the benchmarks against which the performance will be measured.

  • Discuss the end result

What happens if the person completes the job with flying colors? What rewards does the person get? And, what will happen if things go south? What will be the consequences and what course of corrective actions do you plan on implementing in case the consequences are negative? Do explain all those points.

It’s tempting for a manager to take the shortcut and try doing everything on his own. But do know that beyond a point, it’s impossible to do so. Sure, trusting people with sensitive tasks is quite challenging.

But the fact is you will have to start delegating work, eventually! It’s a necessary evil. After a point you need to start trusting your team members with work. It is only when you trust them that they can expand their horizon and not just stay confined forever. It is also the only way in which you can make the best use of their expertise.

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What happens if the person completes the job with flying colors? What rewards does the person get? And, what will happen if things go south? What will be the consequences and what course of corrective actions do you plan on implementing in case the consequences are negative? Do explain all those points.

It’s tempting for a manager to take the shortcut and try doing everything on his own. But do know that beyond a point, it’s impossible to do so. Sure, trusting people with sensitive tasks is quite challenging.

But the fact is you will have to start delegating work, eventually! It’s a necessary evil. After a point you need to start trusting your team members with work. It is only when you trust them that they can expand their horizon and not just stay confined forever. It is also the only way in which you can make the best use of their expertise.


Originally published at www.linkedin.com.