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Delegating Effectively at Work to Help Manage Your Time

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 20 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Delegation Responsibility Morale

One of the most important management skills you could acquire is being able to delegate effectively. Delegating successfully enables you to utilise your staff’s capabilities and frees up time for other responsibilities. Handing over responsibility to other people requires entrusting them completely to perform a task, acquire information, chair a meeting or manage a project. Knowing how to select the right person for this level of responsibility is vitally important, as you will also have to demonstrate that you have faith in this person’s skills.

What is Delegation?

It is the process by which someone explores all areas of a task and comes up with a solution involving another person’s involvement. The delegator can analysis the project in question, select someone to handle it, define the project and brief accordingly, and then monitor the situation as the project grows. What delegation is not about is keeping control of the project.

Why Delegate?

There are many obvious benefits to delegation:

  • It shows you have faith in the people you work with.
  • It boosts staff morale.
  • It helps your staff gain experience.
  • It utilises your management skills.
  • It frees up some of your personal time.
  • It reduces stress in the workplace.

How to Choose the Right Person

The first few times you decide to delegate, the person you choose to hand the responsibility to may have been chosen simply through trial and error. Knowing the strengths and weakness of your staff will help you successfully action any future delegation plans, but in the first instance you will have to go with the little amount of personal knowledge you have. Selecting someone who has the most relevant experience may be your safest bet. Being able to evaluate staff, over a period of time however, will allow you to compare attributes and maintain an objective impression when selecting for the next task you plan to delegate.

What happens next?

You have outlined your brief and defined your objective. Making a checklist will also help the delegate to understand your aims. Feedback from the delegate, at this point, is also important as it will show you they have total understanding of the task and responsibilities they are about to take on.

Allowing a certain amount of flexibility, and offering your support throughout the task’s completion, will enable the delegate to work more freely within your boundaries. Do encourage the delegate to make their own decisions however, and do not be tempted to get involved once you have briefed and handed over the task. You may supervise but only from a distance.

Sharing Accountability

Although delegation with individual accountability is usually more effective, it is often necessary to share accountability for a task or project. This is usually the case within larger organisations and companies, where staff responsibilities sometimes overlap. For shared accountability to really work it is important that the delegation objectives are clearly defined and there is no room for overlaps.

Overall, successful delegation strengthens your own performance. It is important that you praise the delegate on a successful completion of a task and that you are careful not to overburden staff.

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