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Delegate to Grow and Engage Staff

March 27, 2009 10:48 AM 1
Total Posts: 24
Join Date: March 27, 2009
Rank: Executive
Post Date: January 1, 1970
Posts: 24
Location: India

Delegate to Grow and Engage Staff

Dear Friends,

While most of us, as leaders, understand the need to delegate and appreciate its value, we might be reluctant to delegate because we don’t trust others or may even feel we can do a task better. Or perhaps, we are hesitant to let go of tasks and activities that we enjoy and for which we’ve been rewarded over the years.

This kind of thinking can be harmful to our teams and the organization.

Chronic under-delegation causes the following issues:

· It keeps us from mobilizing resources to achieve more and better results.

· It stifles personal growth (ours and others) and makes people feel mistrusted, stifled, bored, and unimportant.

· An organization staffed with individuals who are not prepared to take on new challenges or to respond quickly and effectively to changing market demands.

Delegation takes many forms: leader to direct report, team member to team member, team to team. No matter what role you play, you need to delegate responsibility to be successful. However, many of us lack effective delegating skills.

Responsible delegation is not relinquishing the accountability for a task or decision. Leaders who do this abdicate responsibility when they delegate a task and walk away - failing to give direction, provide resources, and offer coaching. This is not a delegated task, but more of a dump - forcing people to sink or swim alone, which inevitably leads to failure.

Instead, effective delegation is giving people responsibilities that are not a normal part of their jobs. Successful leaders understand that there are critical elements of delegation:

1. Allocating work in the right way.

2. Allocating work to the right people.

3. Understanding that some delegations can be developmental, thereby promoting growth of their team while achieving desired outcomes.

4. Effectively communicating the delegation in a way that meets personal and practical needs.

5. Applying these four elements helps leaders free up their time, their skills, and their abilities in a way to yield the greatest benefits for everyone.

You have choices about how to allocate work effectively. With every new task you’ll need to decide the range of action and the boundaries. In some cases you will choose to provide enough autonomy in decision making to appropriately encourage ownership of a task. Your choices are as follows:

Keep the task: Hold onto the authority and responsibility for handling the task. You’ll most likely keep a task when it is exclusively in your area of responsibility such as a performance problem that can threaten the group’s results. Additionally, you’ll want to keep the task when others are not qualified or cannot meet the deadlines. Of course, too many leaders “under-delegate” because they are “keepers” - those whose first instinct is to handle important tasks and responsibilities themselves. Effective leaders only keep tasks that are appropriate.

Delegate the Idea Generation: Assign responsibility for generating ideas or thinking through a situation. You’ll most likely want to allocate work in this way when you want the benefit of others’ expertise or perspectives, or when you want to build commitment by involving people who will be affected by the ideas or decisions generated. Of course, when delegating idea generation, you must be prepared to accept or act on (within limits) the ideas others generate. Not doing so will send the message that you don’t trust their ideas and feel that you can do it better yourself. This type of action will instantaneously de-motivate your team and you will lose trust and credibility.

Delegate the Task: Assign responsibility for completing a well-defined task that involves defined decision-making authority. In this case, you, as the leader, retain the idea generation, but simply delegate the activity to complete the task. Effective leaders most often delegate tasks that must be done “by the book,” and there is little room for the delegatee to make decisions about what they do or even how to do it. Delegated tasks of this type become effective developmental delegations for new team members who are not yet qualified to make decisions regarding their work.

Delegate Authority: Assign responsibility for completing a well-defined task that involves defined decision-making authority. When others are qualified to make decisions or can perform the task with a bit of coaching, this is a perfect opportunity to delegate authority. Unfortunately, too often you, as the leader, may be tempted to keep tasks because you enjoy them. But, it is probably better to delegate the task given you can delegate authority for this developmental opportunity.

Refer: Pass along the task because it falls within the person’s or team’s current area of responsibility. Too often, leaders allow for “reverse delegation.” Reverse delegation occurs when leaders allow people to give part of the delegated task back to them to complete. For example, you delegate the task of analyzing several proposals from key vendors and the person to whom you’ve delegated says they are having trouble with the task. You should resist the temptation to jump in and do it yourself. A better approach would be to talk with the individual about the support he/she might need to analyze the proposals him/herself. Reverse delegation creates an unwanted cycle: The person fails to develop new skills and, as a result, comes to you for help with the same issue in the future.

Initially, every delegation can be more pain than gain. You need to increase the amount of time you invest - coaching and working with the people taking on the task - compared to the time you would have spent if you kept the task yourself. People may make mistakes or have mis-steps, initially causing you more work. However, in the end, the gains can be real and significant - reduction in your workload, more time to focus on your most important objectives, and a more capable and flexible team.

Thanks & regards