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July 15, 2019

5 Facts about successful Delegation

Business personal debate about finance budget in paperwork.

Delegation is the assignment of tasks or (ideally) responsibilities to someone working for you while giving them authority to varying degrees. It is asking them to do something, usually, by describing the outcome the leader is after, giving them a time frame and a budget if necessary; and then only hearing back if there is a problem or once the outcome is achieved. True delegation involves giving authority to make appropriate decisions in order to achieve the desired result. Delegating without giving authority is called directing. You tell them what to do and how to do it and require them to get your approval for every step they’re taking. This kind of behaviour might be necessary for new team members or for new projects or tasks but is certainly not effective long-term.

The opposite of delegation is doing it yourself, obviously. The advantage of that is, of course, the task is done perfectly, and we are in control (hear my sarcasm here). There are valid reasons for not delegating, and in many cases, you should definitely do the task yourself. While there is an issue when delegating too little there is certainly potential of some bigger issues when delegating too much or to the wrong people. Examples for that would be to delegate only what you don’t want to do. Your people will figure that out before you realise it yourselfthat you do that. You also should avoid delegating strategic decisions that affect the direction or your organisation and require your input or at least your approval.

Depending on the importance and complexity of the project/task/responsibility, delegation is one of the hardest but most rewarding leadership skills that is worth developing in order to become a more effective leader. If you think delegating is easy, you’re either a superhuman or you’re doing it wrong. It’s hard because…

  1. It requires TRUST
    Trust is the currency of any relationship. In leadership, you don’t only need to trust others but also yourself. To delegate successfully, you need to trust your internal judgment about what to delegate to whom. You need to build the kind of relationships with your team members that enable you to trust them. The biblical principle ‘if you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones’, helps to find the right people for the job.
  2. It requires SKILLS
    One of the reasons why we don’t delegate is that we don’t seem to have the people with the right skills on our team. However, more often than not, it is us lacking the skills…to delegate and to develop the skills of our people along the way. Another reason why we don’t delegate is that we have the people with the right skills (yes, the opposite of the first reason). In fact, they are the experts in certain fields but: we are afraid of losing control! Which is sad because we would have hired them because of their skills in the first place.
  3. It requires a PROCESS
    The Situational Leadership Model (Hersey and Blanchard) is a great tool to visualise this process and to understand the strategy that is required to get from directing to delegating. It involves highly supportive behaviour that equips and empowers the person you develop to take on more responsibility. (Read more about the Situational Leadership Model in one of my previous blogs.) It is important to understand that it still requires a process if the people are highly skilled because we still need to build a trust relationship before we can delegate. The time frame in which this process takes place can vary.

But it is rewarding because…

4. It creates PRODUCTIVITY
Once you master the skill of delegation, you’re able to maximise your productivity and to optimise your time management. Delegating effectively releases you to attend to more important matters and makes room for strategic thinking instead of being caught up in tasks that others can do for you. It also enables your team members to make decisions quickly without having to involve you, and it avoids the productivity killer of micromanagement.

5. It produces GROWTH
Both you and your people will grow once you delegate effectively. In fact, your relationship will grow as well because it is based on trust, a profound skill set that you both benefit from and on a process that has led to more productivity. Your people are likely to be more committed to you as their leader and to the organisation, and they take more ownership in their work which enhances their performance. If that is not a worthy return on your investment?

Brian Tracy says that “in old-school thinking, people used to say that, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself.’ In new-school thinking, however, the correct statement is, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to learn how to delegate it properly so that it can be done to the proper standard’.” I would add that if you want your organisation to grow you need to learn to delegate because it will grow yourself and your team.

Happy Delegating!

Desiree

PS. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts below.

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