Delegation – Why is it so important?
Delegation is an area that most of us managers and leaders believe we do all the time. My question is do we do it right?
According to John Hunt (London Business School) “only 30% of managers and leaders believe they delegate effectively and of those, only 1 in 3 is considered a good delegator by their subordinates and colleagues.” So if we consider our own delegation practices, do we truly believe in the importance of delegation, because if we did, we would do it right…surely!
Why don’t we delegate?
In order to understand this, I think it is key to consider the reasons why we may not delegate effectively or indeed at all:
- Perhaps, we are control freaks? We believe that only ourselves can perform the tasks as well as required so why give it to someone else?
- Maybe, we don’t trust our staff. We say we do, but deep down we believe that they aren’t as committed or as competent as we are.
- We worry about our own positions. What will happen if someone completes the task better than ourselves? Will that make us look less capable?
- Ultimately, we can’t find the time! Delegation takes time and sometimes it is much quicker and easier for us to do the task ourselves.
The benefits of delegation
When I look at these statements I can openly admit that the control freak and time issues are my main problems with delegation. So how can I improve my delegation ability? Well I think the first thing I need to do is remind myself of the benefits of effective delegation:
- It reduces your workload. By delegating a task that you would normally complete, you would then have less work to do which will enable you to focus on more high value tasks.
- Delegation gives you time to reflect and be creative. Reflection is key to effective leadership, management and HR practice, as it is only when we reflect on our actions that we can learn and improve. This could then lead to you implementing more innovative ideas within your area of responsibility.
- It develops your staff. By delegating a “meaningful” task to a member of your team, you will be helping to enhance and develop their skill sets, which will then allow them to complete more tasks that link to that skill set. This will not only help your team to progress but will also ensure that your team is prepared and can cope for the times you are on holiday, sick or away from the business.
- Delegation raises morale and increases motivation. By showing that you trust your team members with tasks that you would normally complete. This illustrates the utmost faith in them and their ability as ultimately the task accountability still remains with you.
More benefits include
- It can ensure that decisions will be made closer to the action. Sometimes as managers and leaders we can’t “see the wood for the trees”, and it is quite often our team members, who are closer to our “customers” that can make the most appropriate decisions that meet their needs.
- Delegation reduces costs. You are expensive, so if you can allocate certain tasks to team members who are better suited both in skill set and in cost. This then allows you to focus on the higher value tasks for your organisation.
- It tests promotion potential of staff. All good leaders, managers and HR professionals should want their teams to succeed and progress. This level of empowerment will provide you with strong evidence to support their development and their progression in to more senior positions. Remember a good leader is an enabler that provides opportunity for their teams to develop.
- Delegation will ensure you have a more effective department/organisation. A manager’s/leader’s reputation is based on the performance of their team. The more a team develops the better it is for the manager. This shows that you have excellent managerial and leadership capability.
Tips to improve your delegation skills
So when you look at all of these benefits, surely it is a “no brainer” to delegate more effectively? My view is yes and here are a few tips to help:
- Ensure you identify an appropriate task to delegate. – consider that the task should be beneficial to your team member and not something you are trying to “dump”.
- Identify the right person. – consider your team member’s skills and available time, along with your reasons for delegating the task to them.
- Specify the expected outcomes. – ensure you communicate what “good” looks like as you want to ensure they are successful. This includes providing the required time to complete the task.
- Discuss how they may go about it. – dependent on their skills they may be developed enough to be able to complete the task with little input. In this case, you should ensure that you are both comfortable with what needs to be done.
- Identify the resources they will need. – a good manager/leader should ensure that the appropriate tools are provided to do the job. Again your job is to ensure that they succeed.
- Decide how and when you are going to monitor progress. – you should mutually agree this so that you are both comfortable with the progress of the task.
- Identify who else needs to be informed. – communicating authority and responsibility for the task is vital for your team member to have the support they need from others within the organisation.
Delegation Trump style!
After having considered why delegation is so important to leaders and managers, it has made me think about the latest news on the US elections and the challenges that Donald Trump will now be facing, I wonder how effectively he will delegate the numerous promises (therefore tasks) he has made within his campaign and whether when selecting his key presidential support roles, he has truly selected his staff based on the most appropriate skills? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-37970146 I shall leave you to ponder that question…….!
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