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How To Delegate Work To Others?

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Delagating Work

Delegating is an essential skill for entrepreneurs and managers. It involves a shift in working with an individual to establish goals, giving them substantial rights and accountability to make decisions and achieve goals.

Delegation happens when a manager allows his assistant to take the initiative to get work done in his absence. If an entrepreneur wants to create a successful business, he/ she must know how much authority should be delegated. The minimum level of delegation of authority to get work done should be to enable the staff to take initiatives and to continue taking care of the daily business in the absence of the manager or entrepreneur.

Not all staff is eligible for work delegation. For instance, you just can’t stand up one day and tell your subordinate to run the show in your absence.

The person to whom you delegate work should be a key member of your organization, a self-driven, strong-willed, individual who can plan, direct and co-ordinate with others for work in your absence.

Delegation of work is a big responsibility; hence the person who is being given the opportunity should be responsible and accountable for the work done. It is best to spell out work responsibilities during the delegation phase. If your business has different departments, each should be coordinated to accommodate the change.

While delegating it is important that you keep control over things at the macro level. Strike a balance between your desire to control things and the manager’s working style. Avoid stifling your staff or losing control over things. When you delegate, you hold the subordinate accountable for his/ her and for other’s actions as well.

If work has been delegated to you, make sure that your manager gives you feedback at regular intervals – daily, weekly, or monthly. Delegation does not only mean control, rather it involves coaching and teaching others the ability to manage work as well as people. For a manager to delegate work, it is crucial to have good communication skills. Lack of communication skills could produce disastrous results for the business.

As a manager who delegates work, it is essential that you keep your mind open about your staff. If any of your staff falls short of your expectations, by being irresponsible in running the show, replace that person. On the other hand, if any of them does a good job, praise, motivate, and increase the self confidence of that person. In short, delegation requires you to:

  • Know what you want
  • Express what you want in lucid language
  • Set expectations
  • Trust the person whom you choose to delegate work to
  • Give the person the flexibility to do things his/ her way
  • Communicate and follow-up

To make delegation of work successful, managers must be given the freedom to do things their way. If you do not stand back and let them work, you will stifle them. Measure the success by the results and the methods through which they were achieved. Just as all five fingers aren’t same, no two people will think or react in the same manner in a situation. Each person brings with him/ her a different working and thinking style. It is important that their style of working and thinking blends with the company’s policy.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • There are many books and articles about delegation, and the technical steps are fairly easy. The hard part is the EI part. We work with technical people, and they have a tendency to micromanage and love to get into the details. They also have relative low interpersonal skills. We have them work on flexibility and interpersonal skills in order to let go of control and to find out about their people, what motivates them, and what makes them tick. Without addressing these fundamental emotional competencies, the rules of delegation are very hard for them to follow.

  • Great subject and often over looked in the grand scheme of management. Delegation is an on-going process for all managers corporate and entrepreneurial. There are several things that must take place and these items are always be evaluated and re-evaluated example; Trust, feedback clear expectations, etc. The entrepreneur must delegate in order to be able to grow there business beyond a certain point no one person can do it all alone. On the corporate side one of the things I like to do obviously after trust, etc. has been established is one be clear in my expectation, high-level vision, and timeline with the person I delegating too. Communicate clearly an make sure the delegate is clear on the expectation then allow the person the freedom to execute.

  • Poornima

    Delegation of work is nothing but delegation of ownership. The upline Manager needs to delegate responsibility, set expectations, ask for a detailed PERT of the task to be done along with checkpoint meetings. Then, from time to time, follow up on timelines ( without meaning to add pressure) and cheer if the job is on track or if it is well ahead of time. Motivation in between the task, drives the person to perform better.

    Feedback is an essential element in ensuring that the person delivers the right results.

  • Hello Asma-would you be interested in submitting an article on this topic to the Global Biopharmaceutical newsletter? I look forward to your reply. Thanks.

  • This is a great question and relevant to all levels of an organization; entrepreneur to managers to team leads.

    It’s important to take an inventory of the skill sets currently available and then distribute tasks accordingly. Tasks can be divided based on aptitude or to grow an individual’s skills sets. For an entrepreneur, it might be a matter of identify gaps in their own skills or in their organizations and then filling them.

    Once tasks are distributed, meet with each person to ensure mutual expectations, determine a realistic time frame and an understanding of the outside resources they will need to complete the tasks (if any).

    Then it’s a matter of following up, feedback, and benchmarking.

    A schedule routine meeting (weekly, monthly, etc) can usually accomplish this. Where are they in the project? What hurdles are they encountering and how are they going to solve for them? Do they need additional help/resources? Where did they expect to be by now? Keeping these meeting on target and productive will help build trust and independence among the team.

    Once something is assigned, let go. Remember you have talented people on the job step back and let them do it.

  • To effectively delegate, sincerely compliment the delgatee for something they’ve done in the past; then tell them that because of their good achievement, you are coming to them with another task because, like the previous task they completed so effectively, you need their skills to ensure this task is also completed effectively and efficiently. When assigning the task, use the “tell-tell;show-show” technique developed by W. Clement Stone. which is, “I tell you what I want; you tell me what you understood. I show you what I mean; you show me what you saw.”

  • David

    In my opinion everything starts with the actual willingness, or even ability, of the entrepreneur (or the one who has something to delegate) to delegate. Not everybody can delegate. Theoretically speaking, they can, of course. But in practice delegating means

    a) being able to let go of (direct) control over things,
    b) having capable people around you that actually can do things at least as good as you would do them yourself,
    c) trusting the people you delegate things to,
    d) stop thinking that you are the only one who can do things the right/best way.

    If an entrepreneur is not able to comply with the above mentioned facts, s/he will have a very hard time concentrating on the real important stuff only, i.e. strategica aspects and will therefore get lost in spending time which other capable people should do instead.

  • The very best way to delegate work is to create a positive working relationship with the person you are working with.

  • .Graham Trickey

    I find that by empowering my staff I don’t have to delegate. This creates trust and trust is the lubricant for success.

  • • Here’s the steps I have been taught and I’ve found them very useful.

    1. State Your Need For Help
    – “Rob, I need your help on something.”

    2. Tell Them Why You’re Asking Them
    – “You’re the closest to this customer.”
    – “You’re our best negotiator.”
    – “You’re most in need of growth in this area, and I trust you.”

    3. Ask For Specific Acceptance
    – “Would you please take over the monthly project meeting?”

    4. NOW Describe The Task/Project In Detail
    – “Here’s What’s Involved…”

    If you explain in detail what you want them to do before you ask they might not be sure what you want and which information is important. If you ask them to commit to a simple explanation first they can then listen to the details with intent.

    • As to the question of what should be delegated…

    A manager (or the mentioned entrepreneur) should never delegate their main responsibility. Everything else is pretty much fair game.

    The rule of management economics would say that the further down you can delegate the better. It doesn’t make sense for someone being paid $50K to do someone that someone being paid $25K can do. Otherwise it costs twice as much.

    If you delegate the producing of a report to one of your directs you have cut the cost of doing it by the % difference in salaries, assuming the direct can learn within a reasonable amount of time to do it at the same quality and in the same time.

    Delegation is also a fantastic way to develop your staff (i.e. talent management).

  • Here’s some thoughts from experience of managing across many sectors and levels. Starts with what I call ‘Diagnosis’ a set of questions for the manager to ask themselves, (or be coached on!),

    * What’s your track record with delegation so far?
    * What’s worked well? Not so well?
    * What could your people gain by taking on more responsibility and becoming more responsible / accountable?
    * What might be the effect on the business?
    * What do you think are the most important considerations for effective delegation to other team members?
    * How will you know what to delegate, when, and to whom?
    * What will you be feeling or thinking having delegated work to others?
    * If you were able to delegate really well, what would that then enable you to do?

    Then questions which are more action oriented:

    * What’s the purpose of this particular delegation?
    * How would you assess the state of readiness of the employee?
    * What are the implications of delegating this work / task etc?
    * What permission might you need from others before delegating?
    * What will be the boundaries of your delegated authority?
    * How will you go about assigning the new responsibilities?
    * How will you know you’re successful?

  • Nazuk

    I find it really helps instead of simply allocating work, I take it on with a brief discussion get their opinions and infact if better, take their opinions on board and have them pick the task up. This is not always the case ofcourse.. But I work in a technical CM team and I have to delegate work sometimes.. And this approach has always worked for me. But it hughly depends on the skill factor and what resources are available as well.

  • Here are a few delegation rules:

    – Do one thing for many reasons: Delegate because this is what the need dictates and then add more reasons: Because you also want to create opportunity to others; for your personal development in terms of learning not to be possesive and the fact that there is always someone there who can do a good job.

    – This is almost too obvious, yet must be said: Chose someone who can deliver in terms of time, quality and reliability.

    – Delegating is a ONE ON ONE affair, between you and the one you are delgating to. It is a contract that the two of you strike, where you empower soemeone else to take on responsibility. What exsists between the two of you especially in terms of trust is crucial to the process.

    – So you are responsible for the choice of person(s), while he/she/they are responsible to fulfill their contract with you and with themselves – with their own honour. You are accountable for your choice of people, they are accountable for delivering the result.

    – So unless it is clearly stated and agreed to with your superiors/colleagues, when you delegate you are still ultimately responsible.

    – Therefore, you need to be crystal clear and comprehensive in how and to who you communicate in terms of needs, instructions and feedback.

    – To sun up: First determine the main reason why a task needs delegating; chose a person and have an eye-ball to eye-ball about the task; communicate clearly; agree on EVERYTHING that needs agreeing on; communicate with supperiors/colleagues if and when needed and then…

    – LET THEM GET ON WITH IT AND GIVE THEM THE FREEDOM TO DO SO. Never micro-manage unless it is part of the agreed to deal deal.

    David

  • Personally, I found that when approaching an employee you are about to delegate something to, you may need a chair and a whip. If you do…

  • Quynh Nguyen

    I agree with everything Asma wrote above and would add only one small obvious, important quality in the delegatee: glass half-full personality.

  • John

    My previous boss had a great saying, “Good leaders don’t lead, they create leaders” I think thoughtful delegation is the first step to empowering our team members to become leaders. What I mean when I say thoughtful delegation is taking into account the personality and strengths and weaknesses of the indivdual when delegating tasks to them, being aware of their desire for feedback and encouragement and responding by providing it to suit their needs.

  • shirley howe

    Do delegate with meaning, in other words, do actually delegate the responsibility and accountablilty for the task as well as the task. Many managers don’t, and end up telling the person exactly how to do the task and then get involved themselves if things aren’t being done the way they would do it. This actually undermines the person you are delgating to, and can make them feel frustrated and un-trusted.
    I have met many managers who claim to delegate, but actually cannot let go as Mary says, and end up micro-managing.

  • Mary Fors

    Develop their skills so they are ready to take what you need them to take. Then be prepared to let go and focus on other things knowing that mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Leaving them too soon is “abandonment”, never leaving them is “micro-managing”.

  • Find out what there individual strengths are and see if you can delegate pieces that play to their strengths. Be clear in your expectation and have deadlines. I have had teams where some individuals needed daily check ins and others were happy to take their part and run with it. Find out how they like to work. As a leader I find that my team is happier and we are more productive if I can lead them in a way they like to be led.

  • John Harrison • Sometimes delegation for an entrepreneur or business owner is difficult to follow through on.
    There is a general point in respect of very low EI found in individuals who might be technical, but also IT, accountants, solicitors and the like. Generally left brain orientated careers. This is not to say that they cannot improve their right brain activity or even improve their EI but it does impact on their ability to delegate.

  • Try to make sure there is an appropriate balance between the employee’s skill level and the degree of challenge to avoided his/her frustration and to increase engagement in the task.
    14 days ago