The Art of Delegation: Read This Because It Will Make You a Better Boss.

The art of delegation is getting someone else to do what you ask of them.

When you hear a boss saart of delegationying things like “I can never get my people to do what they are told” or “I can’t trust anyone, so I have to do it myself”, or “Nobody can do it as well as me” that is a fair indication that the boss has not learned the art of delegation.  Delegation is more than just asking someone to do something.  It is assigning them responsibility to get the task done and therefore they need to be held accountable.  But that only works if there is a clear understanding of what the task is, when it is to be completed and the importance of the task, or the reason why it needs to be done.

The Reason Why

Numerous studies have been carried out that when people are given a reason for doing something, they are far more likely to carry out the request.  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini   The Reason Why will vary depending on the request.  Just using the word “because” may work if the task is small and relatively unimportant. For example, “We need this widget repaired by four o’clock today because the customer will be coming in to pick it up”, will be far more effective than saying “fix this widget”. If the task is more complex, a common understanding of the consequences and rewards will need to be discussed. For example, “If we get this job finished by five o’clock today, that means the maintenance crew will be able to start first thing in the morning and that will make sure we stay on schedule. If we don’t complete it, it will put us behind and possibly lose the contract.”

The essential components of effective delegation can be broken down into 7 key areas:

1.  Ensure the person you are delegating the task to, has the competency and ability to do the task.
2.  Clearly define the task and what the desired outcome is.
3.  Clearly set the deadline for the task to be completed.
3.  Explain the reasons for the delegation.
4.  Ask the employee what resources or assistance they may need to complete the task.
5.  Ask the employee what could prevent them from completing the task on time. (Eliminate excuses       beforehand)
6.  Support and encourage the employee in the performance of the task.
7.  Review the task on completion and praise the employee when the job is done well.
Remember, delegation is not abdication. You are responsible to hold the employee accountable for completing the task on time and to the expected standard. The benefits of effective delegation are that as you build trust and confidence in your employees, you can become more effective and more productive.  As you build your team, effective delegation will help to reduce stress and create a culture of support and encouragement within the team.

Professional salespeople are trained to give a reason why they are making a particular recommendation, usually after discussing three or four buying options.  They understand buyer behaviour and that people don’t like being  told what to do, or what to think without cause or justification. Nike’s slogan of “Just Do It’ may cause you to buy their shoes, but it is not effective in the workplace.  Read this article by Susan Weinschenk Ph.D “The Power of the Word “Because” To Get People To Do Stuff”.

Why People Don’t Like to Delegate:

1 .   Afraid the employee will make a mistake and they will have to fix it.
        This attitude will build mistrust and lower team morale.
        
2.    It takes too long to delegate.
        It shouldn’t, and in the long run will make you far effective.
        
3    Quicker and more efficient if they did it themselves.
        Perhaps on a once off occasion, but as you become more effective at delegating you will become far more effective.
        
4    Fear that the employee will resent delegation.
        If delegation is carried out effectively th employee will feel empowered and not resentful.
        
5    Lack of trust in the employee.
        If you don’t trust your employees, why are you employing them? It is up you to build a culture of trust.

The art of delegation takes practice and persistence. The more you practice delegation, the better you will be at it.

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3 Comments
  1. I think the picture says it all, delegation is about forming a partnership with your team. You’re coming alongside each other to get the things done that need done. Ideally, each person is focused on on those tasks that allow them to deliver the highest value to the organization. However, in times of crises or unexpected capacity constraints that may change and you may just have to dig in and do things you ordinarily would’ve delegated. But jumping in and doing it yourself shouldn’t be your default.

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  1. […] When you hear a boss saying things like “I can never get my people to do what they are told” or “I can’t trust anyone, so I have to do it myself”, or “Nobody can do it as well as me” that is a fair indication that the boss has not learned the art of delegation. Delegation is more than just asking someone to do something. It is assigning them responsibility to get the task done and therefore they need to be held accountable. But that only works if there is a clear understanding of what the task is, when it is to be completed and the importance of the task, or the reason why it needs to be done.  […]

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