5 Step Guide to Better Delegation

One of the many challenges a manager encounters as they take on more strategic responsibilities, is the areas of operational capacity and the need to manage the workload overflow of their team. It’s critical that they free up time somewhere, in order to ensure their work load is sustainable.

The key to better delegation is looking at this from both viewpoints: (1) how does it benefit the delegator, and (2) how does it benefit the delegatee.

Our 5 Step Guide to Better Delegation should help any manager challenged with finding a sustainable workload and empower their team with just the right amount of responsibility.

1.Why – “Consider the wider benefits of delegation”

Benefits for you the delegator…
– Time to focus on more critical responsibilities
– Time to focus on planning rather than reacting
– Enabling you to manage basic duties during sick-leave, holidays, conferences, etc.
– Succession planning
– Retention of staff – greater variety, purpose and mobility in their role
– Greater engagement from staff – more responsibility means more ownership
– Greater productivity and yield of resources

Benefits for the delegatee…
– Brings greater variety to their role – new challenges, new thinking
– Skills building – stepping stones toward promotion
– Opportunity to illustrate leadership ability
– Opportunity to expand a role around their abilities*

* The leaner and flatter the organisation structure the more important it is to build up multi-faceted skill-sets that aren’t so much designed to raise people up in a hierarchy but to increase their personal responsibility and remit.

2. Who – “Position the task in their career development track”
– In order for colleagues or subordinates to see delegation as something more than just you passing on your responsibility, they need to see why you chose them personally for the task at hand.
– Ideally the delegation of tasks should fit into an encompassing learning and development agenda for that individual.
– This means that even passing on less attractive tasks need not be frustrating for the staff member if they see that this leads to more interesting work down the line or that this is necessary to gain promotion in due course.

3. What – “Don’t set them up to fail”
– The delegation of tasks should be graded for different individuals:
– Delegating a task or project that the recipient brings no relevant experience to can lead to an unachievable result and too much time for you to support them
– This leads to frustration for both the delegator and the recipient:
– It can destroy your confidence in delegating responsibilities in the future and destroy the self-confidence of the struggling recipient.

4. How
– Delegation can require quite a bit of preparation and ongoing support to guide the recipient. Time needed depends on the approach you take.
– Instruction – typically you give explicit instructions where the task is to be accomplished in one particular way. Writing or voicing clear instruction can take time to ensure that repetition and clarification are not needed at every turn.
– Mentoring – mentoring is slightly different in that you look to develop the staff member as a decision maker by helping them consider the situation or facts at hand and then answer their questions that stem from this
– Coaching – dependent on their confidence and experience or skills relevant to the task, coaching can be a great approach. Here you trust their judgment and knowledge enough that you ask questions to inspire certain facts to be considered and hopefully encourage an insightful approach. If you utilise coaching, you must be willing to compromise on how the task may be executed, and understand the basic logic of coaching practice.
– Consultation – in this case, you are confident they know what needs to be considered and ultimately you are passing the responsibility over to them with little anticipation they will need you help or support beyond consulting on key aspects of the project.

5. When
– Delegating a task almost never means you get back 100% of the time it would take to do it yourself
– Simply outlining a task may take 10% of your typical execution time
– Giving intricate instruction and lending ongoing support may actually mean you spend 110% of the time it would have taken to do it yourself. But in future you will have ensured that you have the ability to delegate the task successfully.
– Planning for task delegation in advance means you can find a workable schedule for setting the delegatee up with sufficient knowledge and resources, whilst lending the necessary support and guidance throughout the project.
– When you consider such investment of time, having a Learning & Development strategy for the delegatee is so crucial to maintaining motivation toward delegation.

Overall the key to better delegation is about recognising its instrumental role in helping you achieve your KPIs – freeing up time, building up greater knowledge across the team and thus enhancing performance.

 Ian CroxonAssociate at Voltedge Management