“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

President Roosevelt eloquently described effective delegation in a nutshell. The best leaders consistently choose the most capable person for a position, provide the right degree of guidance, and then let them get on with their job.

Delegation benefits both managers and employees, while generating mutual trust. Managers who allocate properly can keep their focus on critical and strategic issues. Employees are empowered to take on meaningful and challenging work that builds self-confidence, job satisfaction and morale.

Why Delegate

One of the most important roles of a manager is to help their employees grow through both successes and failures. Giving people ownership of tasks, along with the resources to accomplish them, makes a team stronger and more motivated.

  • Employees become more committed. More projects are completed and more deadlines and budgets are met. Ultimately, the result is enhanced productivity and a healthier bottom line.
  • Team members have more opportunities to develop their own leadership skills. At the same time, managers can strategize to fill future leadership roles with high-potential talent. Growth and advancement potential is key to successful employee retention.
  • Your time is freed up so you can concentrate on high-priority responsibilities. You are not spread too thinly – and your entire business operates more efficiently.

When to Delegate

“True delegating means giving up what we’d like to hold on to – the authority – and holding onto what we’d like to give up – the responsibility.” – Dr. Peter Kuriloff, University of Pennsylvania.

Those are wise words. A leader remains ultimately responsible for the successful completion of delegated tasks, even when others have been given the resources and authority to accomplish them. Appropriate times to delegate include:

  • When a lot of work or details take up too much time.
  • When a particular team member has a specific qualification for – or interest in – a task.

Management consultant, educator, and author, Peter Drucker recommends that leaders be aware of what they should not delegate, including:

  • Setting objectives for a department, business unit or company.
  • Organizing employees into efficient teams.
  • Motivating and communicating.
  • Checking and analyzing results.

How to Delegate

Finding the best person for a task is the most effective way to delegate. Try to spread the enjoyable and responsible tasks around, adding more status and value. Follow these basic steps:

  • Choose a capable person. Managers may delegate to get a job done, to give someone an opportunity to develop new skills – or, ideally, both. Regardless of their objective, they need to choose someone who can rise to the challenge. Managing workload is critical. There must be reasonable expectations of what the selected individual can do in the time and resources provided.
  • Explain objectives and desired outcomes. If expected results are unclear or limitations of an assignment are fuzzy, chances are the end results will be a disappointment. While the means of accomplishing a delegated assignment should not be regimented, specifying desired results and deliverables will ensure that the project stays on track.
  • Provide the necessary authority and resources. Leaders need to make available the tools and means to get the job done. These include access to information and technology, an adequate budget and a directive informing support staff that they will be called upon for assistance and should cooperate.
  • Maintain contact. Excessive supervision defeats the purpose of delegation, but periodic reporting and information conversations help a manager to maintain contact and overall control. Leaders should monitor only to the extent that they do so without hampering independence.

The expert search consultants at BrainWorks can help you design the strategies and processes you need so your executives and managers can continually enhance their leadership skills. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more.

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