Career Employment Strategies

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Delegation with Confidence - Five Essential Steps

The old maxim "if you want something done right, do it yourself," does not address the busy manager with assignments and deadlines facing them everyday. Many managers find themselves limited simply by the hours in a day to meet the many demands confronting them. Giving up control and authority is a challenge that many managers fear more than working twelve hours a day six days a week. But the effective manager is one who understands his or her limitations and has confidence in both their ability to delegate and their subordinates. There are five steps that insure that the delegation process will yield the best results for the manager and the recipient of delegated tasks.

1. Clarify the assignment. Look carefully at the task and what is required to complete it. What steps are involved in the assignment? What knowledge is needed? Who in your organization is best qualified to assume this task? If you are not clear in your assignment the results will definitely be in jeopardy. Finding the employee with the necessary skills and experience to do the job is only half the challenge. Once that employee is designated you have to be clear about what you want done. For best results, delegate the outcome of the assignment. Let your subordinate choose methods and strategies that they feel will best allow them to complete the assignment. Also long as you've made your goals clear, your chosen employee is the best person to determine the way to reach a positive outcome.

2. Specify the range of authority. Every time you delegate a project you also delegate authority. But every assignment and the authority required have inherited constraints. It is fruitless to give an assignment and not delegate the authority needed to gather information, enlist others help, and utilize company resources. When you clarify the assignment, examine how much authority is required and inform your designee of the range of discretion you are giving them. Be clear about constraints and limits that you are granting and the boundaries involved.

3. Inform all affected parties that delegation has occurred. Your designee is going to need cooperation to complete the given project. Also, they are acting in your place and to avoid misunderstandings and confusion, let everyone know that you've delegated this task and to whom the task has been given. Failure to communicate with others will sabotage your employee's efforts. Also, in all organizations where established lines of authority are clearly drawn, changes can cause uncertainty and concern about other members of your team. Avoid "water cooler gossip" by being upfront with your employees and communicate your trust that they will cooperate with your designee as they would cooperate with you.

4. Allow your subordinate to participate. Employees that are encouraged to participate in the requirements, methods, degree of authority, and time frames of a given project are more motivated and enthusiastic in assuming tasks. When you give an assignment, draw on the thoughts and opinions of your subordinate to map out the assignment and your expectations. This illustrates a manager's confidence in the recipient and their abilities. A cooperative spirit goes a long way to ensuring success. When employees feel they have a voice in a given project there is a higher degree of satisfaction, motivation, and accountability for performance.

5. Establish an open line of communication for feedback and monitoring progress. As you set time tables and reporting guidelines, also make sure that your employee has a route for questions, advice, and concerns that may arise. Delegation is an ongoing process and communication is essential to its success. This communication should involve not only concerns of your subordinate but the managers concerns as the project progresses. Periodic monitoring insures that problems along the way are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. Each step involved in an assignment should have a corresponding time frame and specific reporting requirement. Mutual understanding and acceptance of these reporting requirements is vital to a smooth transition from your actions to the actions of your designee.

Delegation is an issue facing managers more and more as personnel budgets are tightened but demands on mangers time and expertise are growing. Delegating is not a sign of limitation or failure to meet expectations but a sign of a confident and secure manager who can draw upon the talent within their organization. Indeed, delegation is the truest test of a manager's confidence. The mission of every manager must be trust in themselves and trusting the team they have assembled. After all, why build a great team if you don't use its talents to the fullest degree?

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