Delegating effectively is a core management skill, and is particularly important for successful line management.
Employees across UK businesses regularly feedback that they fail to receive clear communication or support when delegated to, leaving them frustrated, demotivated and confused.
The good news is that practicing effective delegation is surprisingly simple. The ability to delegate effectively opens up opportunities for a line manager to achieve better outcomes whilst expending less time and energy. There is a tried and tested process for delegating that can help you be a more effective line manager.
This brief article on delegation will cover the following four points:
- What is delegation?
- How to delegate
- What good delegation looks like
- What poor delegation looks like
1. What is delegation?
Wikipedia, the fountain of all knowledge on definitions puts forward that delegation is “the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities.” As such, delegation is an act of empowerment, providing a mandate for the transfer of a task from one person to another, typically a manager to a subordinate.
Additionally, should you have been delegated to, and as explored in our basic management course, you have been “appointed or sent by another with power to act in his/her stead.”
2. How to Delegate Effectively
Whilst a manager may feel that they are delegating, there are some very specific steps needed if the delegation is to be effective. So here are 7 steps to effective delegation:
- Explain simply and coherently why you are delegating and what’s in it for them
- Clarify the outcome you require in terms of what and when
- Communicate who is available, including yourself, to support them
- Share any additional resources available, including money, to help complete the task
- Ask the delegatee to feedback their understanding of the task, support and outcome along with confirmation that they are confident in their ability to meet the challenge
- Agree a time deadline and any milestones to review progress
- Praise your delegatee re-emphasising their ability to successfully complete this task
3. What does good delegation look like?
The most critical factor to the success of a task is the effectiveness the delegation process. No amount of talent, resources or good intentions from a delegatee can overcome an insufficient delegation yet an effective delegation can empower someone to bring fruitfulness to a task with ease.
Signs that the delegation process has been sufficient include:
- Freedom is given to the individual or team to achieve the outcome
- The outcome and expectations are clear and unambiguous
- The tone of the delegation is supportive
- The delegatee feels confident in their abilities and specifically why they were chosen
- Colleagues and stakeholders understand the task has been delegated are supportive of the delegatee
- Deadlines and milestones are clear and followed through to action
4. What does bad delegation look like?
“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.”
Signs that the delegation process has been insufficient:
- Delegatee feels frustrated and confused, restricted or demotivated
- ‘My way or the highway’ – persons delegated to see no room to explore alternative options
- Delegatee feels that opportunities have been missed with a lack of permission to adapt and respond to possibilities to improve
- Lack of clear preferred outcome
- Lack of deadline
- The delegatee doesn’t receive feedback on performance and so feels confused as to how well they performed
Effective delegation is one of the core modules within our basic management course. Learn how to delegate with ease, practice handling difficult conversations and deliver effective feedback with our 1-day inhouse management training.