Posted 04 July 2013 by Chris Farmer
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How can I better delegate?
Delegation is the art of entrusting a task to another.
Delegation is a vital skill for you to master, especially if you are a manager or a leader. Delegation is a vital skill because you cannot do it all. You cannot do it all because you don't have the time, the energy, or the knowledge to allow you to do it all.
And even if you did, you should still delegate some tasks as a means of training others and developing their range of skills.
As a leader or manager, you need to know about delegation.
As a non-leader manager, you need to know something about delegation skills because you are the one to whom the tasks are being delegated. And if the tasks are being delegated in the wrong way, to the wrong people, then the delegator is setting up the delegatee, to fail.
And when the delegatee fails the delegator will blame him, or her, for the failure, when the fault was really, in the form of the delegation.
So delegation is important for everyone.
Here are six rules for proper delegation.
Rule one: Delegate for the right reasons only
There are good reasons to delegate, and there are bad reasons to delegate.
Here are the good reasons.
- Delegation of lower value tasks allows you to continue with the higher value tasks.
- The person is the best person for the task. That person has the talent for that task.
- The person would benefit from tackling the delegated task as the task would give him valuable experience.
- Delegating the tasks may be used to distribute the work load equally across the whole team. Balance the work load across the whole team.
There are also bad reasons to delegate. Here are some of the bad reasons.
- As a demonstration of your authority.
The point is this; Delegate only for the right reasons.
Rule two: Delegate using only specific language
When describing the task to be done, use only specific language.
Don't use vague, general or ambiguous language.
Don't give instructions using ambiguous language.
Instead define your terms. Give precise definitions.
If possible quantify your description by including numerical values.
So instead of saying, "Would you please do some sales calls for me this afternoon?"
You would say, "Would you please make 20 sales calls for me, between lunch time and 4.30 PM finish?"
Rule three: Agree a feedback method
When a task is delegated, you must agree a means of checking the degree of progress being made.
When a task is delegated to a particular individual, then that individual will:
- Make good progress. Or
- Not make good progress. Or
- Make no progress at all. Or
- Mess it up!
And the person delegating needs to know which one of these four options is actually happening.
Therefore, the delegator needs to agree a method by which he she can measure progress.
This we call the feedback method. The feedback method is the method by which information relating to the amount of progress being made, can be communicated to the delegator.
This must be agreed between the delegator and the delegatee.
Rule four: The delegatee must have the relevant skills and knowledge
The person to whom the task is being delegated must have the relevant skills, knowledge, and abilities that are consistent with the goal.
If the delegatee does not have the proper skills, then obviously the situation is precarious and the task is likely to fail.
Please ensure that the right task is being given to the right person.
Rule five: All practical constraints that may prevent the successful completion of the task must be identified and taken into consideration
If the person has the proper skills, he- she may still fail because there may be certain external factors that are stopping the successful completion of the task. We call these negative external factors, "constraints".
Constraints are defined here as, "limitations that you cannot change."
We are all under a set of constraints; limitations that you cannot change.
It is vital that all constraints are identified and taken into account in the planning of the deadline.
Rule six: Agree a deadline
The deadline is the time by which the task should be completed. The deadline should be discussed and agreed. Both the delegator and the delegatee should haggle over what represents a reasonable deadline.
- If too much time is given over to this task, the person doing the task becomes inefficient.
- If too little time is given over to this task, the task is not done to the proper standard and the person becomes inefficient.
Therefore the deadline must be just right. Not too long, not too short.
But what constitutes "the just right amount of time"?
That is exactly what needs to be thrashed out and agreed.
The deadline should be agreed and made explicit. A specific time and date should be allocated to the task or to the next feedback session.
Delegation is the act of intrusting a task to another.
Delegation is important because nobody can, or should, do it all.
Delegation should be done only for the right reasons.
Delegation should be done in the right way.
The right way means according to the following rules.
- Delegate using specific language
- Agree a feedback method
- The delegatee must have the relevant skills and knowledge.
- All practical constraints that may prevent the successful completion of the task must be identified and taken into consideration.
- Agree a proper and specific deadline.
Do all these things, and then everything will go well for you.