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Oct 4, 2007

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Effective Delegation of Work

Effective Delegation of Work

Effective managers and leaders know that they can climb greater
heights and achieve remarkable goals only if they delegate work
to the good, able and talented people around them. The logic is
simple – if they are able to rope in more brains and bodies to do
the tasks, they are able to get more things done within the same
time frame. Having these tasks out of the managers' hands will
free up their time and allow them to concentrate on value-added
jobs which befit their status and qualifications. The ability to
delegate work is therefore a vital asset that all good leaders and
managers should have. Other than time management, effective
delegation of work may take the pressure off work stress and
substantially improve the work life.

As we shall discuss, delegation is not about farming out work and
forgetting about it altogether. For the delegation of work to be
effective and to result in win-win situations, there are certain
myths worth clarifying.

Story:

The Wolf and the Shepherd

Effective Delegation of Work

[Illus by Milo Winter]

A Wolf had been prowling around a flock of Sheep for a long time,
and the Shepherd watched very anxiously to prevent him from
carrying off a Lamb. But the Wolf did not try to do any harm.
Instead he seemed to be helping the Shepherd take care of the
Sheep. At last the Shepherd got so used to seeing the Wolf about
that he forgot how wicked he could be.

One day he even went so far as to leave his flock in the Wolf's care
while he went on an errand. But when he came back and saw how
many of the flock had been killed and carried off, he knew how
foolish to trust a Wolf as he exclaimed. “I have been rightly
served; why did I trust my sheep to a Wolf?”

Moral:

Delegate your task wisely, and only to people you trust.

Quotable Quotes:

“Guidelines for bureaucrats: (1) When in charge, ponder.
(2) When in trouble, delegate. (3) When in doubt, mumble.”
... James H. Boren

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find,
delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy
you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” ...Ronald Reagan

“Do not delegate an assignment and then attempt to manage
it yourself – you will make an enemy of the overruled
subordinate.” ... Wess Roberts

“Big things and little things are my job. Middle level
management can be delegated.” ... Konosuke Matsushita

“If you are having as much fun running a big corporation as
you did running a piece of it, then you are probably interfering
too much with the people who really make it happen.”
... James Burke

“The finest plans are always ruined by the littleness of those
who ought to carry them out, for the Emperor can actually
do nothing.” ... Bertolt Brecht

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

Companies have risen and fallen because they have entrusted
the wrong CEOs and successors with the management duties.
Many great family businesses had been ruined at the hands of
the children or grandchildren who took over the helm, based
on who they were rather than what they could do. When
businesses failed, CEOs rightfully took the brunt. The people
responsible for delegating the management duties should not
be spared either.

A proper delegation should be viewed as a sharing of
responsibility, and not a passing of the baton. When a leader
assigns tasks to the other team members, it remains his
responsibility to monitor and ensure that the members
complete the assigned tasks. Along the way, when the members
face difficulties and hurdles, the leader should step in to assist
and advise. Of course, for any delegation to be effective, the
leader must empower the members and confer on them a certain
amount of authority and resources necessary for the tasks at
hand. What we are saying is that the leader cannot assign all his
functions, powers and authority, and still expect to be called a
leader. He would be a consultant and not the person-in-charge.

A skillful delegation should therefore lead to a happy solution
for everyone. The CEO has time to look at the overall direction
of growth, strategic plans and policies of the company, while
retaining the top spot and top salary. The deputy CEOs and
departmental chiefs have the necessary powers and authority
to run the show, and make decisions within their portfolio. The
middle managers, supervisors and heads take charge of the day-
to-day operational activities, and are empowered to make
decisions within their scope of work.

Since delegating work plays such an important role for successful
CEOs, why are most of them not doing it, or not doing enough?
Why do we see CEOs attending to routine low-level tasks and
even chairing meetings on totally operational matters? There are
various reasons why we - CEOs, leaders and managers - avoid
delegating our tasks and responsibility. Here are some reasons
and the ways to get around them:-

1. Do not trust employees with the responsibility.

Even the most skillful manager will have this nagging feeling
that the person tasked with the job cannot carry it out in the
way he wants. Maybe the manager is a perfectionist. If so, the
problem lies with the manager having expectations that are too
high and onerous. It could also be that the manager does not
have a habit of giving clear instructions on what the task entails.
Although managers should not have to resort to holding the
staff's hands in every matter, it is always advisable to clearly
define the tasks and leave no room for doubt. Ultimately, the
questions that we should ask ourselves are these – If we do not
trust the staff, why do we employ them in the first place? If they
don't have the skill, why don't we send them for further training?

2. Only we know best.

While it is true that experience is what earn the managers their
position, nobody can claim to be a walking encyclopedia on all
matters. The workers doing the factory-line, front desk jobs day
in and day out, are the only people who know the work and the
problems faced at the back of their hands.

3. Work faster on our own.

If we have done a piece of work before, we can do it again faster
and better. We can continue taking on the same assignment and
after the hundredth time, we may complete it twice as fast.
Think then, if we train another person to do it, will that person
not be able to arrive at the same achievement over time? We
are freeing up more of our time to do other work and duties,
and on the whole, complete all our work in a much shorter time.

4. We lose our control.

How much control do we want? Are we really concerned about
the process or the outcome? We can work with the employee to
come up with a mutually agreeable process, but it is the outcome
that we are targeting. By assigning the job, we risk losing control
over the little bits of how the job is done although we can
continue to maintain control over the important aspects of the
job by spelling out the expected output and performance targets
as well as quality control checks and standards.

5. We lose our authority.

This again depends on how you view the word “authority”. We
may not have direct supervision over groups of employees. They
will report to their immediate supervisors. However, these
supervisors are now under our charge, and our authority is in
effect extended. It is akin to changing our authority from a
parent to a grand-parent. In a typical family structure, the grand-
parent status is the most revered and respected.

6. We lose credit and recognition.

This is a sore point which most managers have. Assigning jobs
means letting other people take the credit for jobs well done.
Can this be true? If we believe in the concept of teamwork,
won't the achievement of a team accrue to every team member,
including the leader of the team? If our employees steal the
limelight for an accomplishment, will some light not be thrown
onto us as well for our good leadership and management? Good
managers should also be professional enough to acknowledge
that the staff who do the work ought to get most of the praises.
Nowadays, performance incentives are tied to the team and not
individual efforts, and the people leading successful teams are
those who are most valued.

7. Employees are not committed.

This is where the delegation skills come in. In explaining the
tasks, managers should let the employees see how the tasks fit
into the overall scheme of things. Let them know the
expectations and rewards. Let the employees be the ones raising
their hands to volunteer for and commit themselves to the
project.

8. We cannot keep track of developments.

We mentioned that after parceling out the tasks, our duties do
not end there. We have to continue to monitor the progress of
the tasks. Usually, this is done by having reporting officers
submit detailed status updates on what they have completed and
how much of the work is outstanding. This will give us a gauge
on whether the work can be completed on time. We are after all
responsible for the final outcome and while we should not micro
manage the work process, we should not lose track of its
developments.

Related Articles:

Teamwork - A Competitive Advantage
Control and Overcome Procrastination
Cope with Work Stress

Books worth reading:

To be successful at work and yet have the time for family

and leisure is everyone's dream. The book If You Want It
Done Right, You Don't Have to Do It Yourself!: The Power
of Effective Delegation, by Donna M. Genett, aims to do just
that by giving readers useful tips on effective delegation.

Also, take a look at Robert Heller's How to Delegate
(Essential Managers Series). It is a thin handy book that
offers you tips, the do's and don'ts, checklists and quick guides
on letting go and getting the right person to do the job. Learn
some useful delegation skills and improve your work condition.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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41 comments:

Joel said...

Interesting blog! I'm linking your blog and will check out the interesting fables which relate to Business and management lessons.

Donald Mckenzie Jr said...

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Anonymous said...

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Public Records said...

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Anna Robin said...

What a great idea you had! Fables teach us since child age, and having them as reference for "adults" makes me think you're on. Congrats and keep going!

http://foreclosuredoctoronline.com said...

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Anonymous said...

Great stuff ,educational and fund to read. Thanks!

Cade said...

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lenen said...

Turns out that when you don't give enough trust to your employees they eventually stop working so hard. Give them something to believe in.

rama said...

your blog is very good

rama said...

nice blog

Jack said...

I want to add some information on effective delegation of work. Delegate to lead is not just an adage but has to be followed for the development of both the employee and the manager. If the manager wants to find time for activities that can lead to his growth and that of the organisation, he has to delegate. If the employee has to learn and move up, he has to take on more responsibilities and fulfil them.The only way to do this is to delegate. But managers are often reluctant to let go of tasks that can be done by their subordinates for the fear of losing their powers or they doubt if their juniors have the ability to do these tasks.

The manager should first be willing to trust his team members and have confidence on their efficiency if he has to delegate. Effective delegation means letting the right employee handle the right task so that the manager can save on his time and energy and use it for more important tasks.Delegation helps in employee development and gives him independence to take decisions and provides opportunities for growth. When employees are assigned important tasks, they feel valued and trusted, it is also one way of training them and helping them realise their potential.

Delegation has to be done in the right way if it has to succeed. As the first step in delegation, the manager has to decide what work he can assign to his subordinates, most of the time, managers end up assigning low-priority tasks.

Jack roberts


Promoter

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Excellent awareness tips. It is definitely needed today with the economy making jobs even more scarce.

I look forward to your future thoughts!
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allan Gering said...

Delegation can be viewed as dumping by the employee who receives more work to do. In a recent meeting with a young employee, she complained that while she was extremely interested in more responsible work and taking on new challenges, she felt that her manager was just giving her more work to do.
_____________
Urologia

Anonymous said...

It is rather interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.

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individual coaching said...

Its also important to make sure they understand the overall purpose of the project or task given to them. Employees can contribute effectively if they are aware of the big picture or main agenda of the project.

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Jaxon said...

There is a lot to learn for life from the given story. Business people will be really benefited through such fables. It is very appreciative that important lessons for life are taught through a story.

Business and Management said...

It's perfect! :)

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