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Derived from Latin, delegate means “to send from.” When delegating you are sending the work “from” you “to” someone else. Effective delegation will not only give you more time to work on your important opportunities, but you will also help others on your team learn new skills.

  • Delegation helps people grow underneath you in an organization and thus pushes you even higher in management. It provides you with more time, and you will be able to take on higher priority projects.
  • Delegate whole pieces or entire job pieces rather than simply tasks and activities.
  • Clearly define what outcome is needed, then let individuals use some creative thinking of their own as to how to get to that outcome.
  • Clearly define limits of authority that go with the delegated job. Can the person hire other people to work with them? Are there spending constraints?
  • Clear standards of performance will help the person know when he or she is doing exactly what is expected.
  • When on the receiving end of delegation, work to make your boss’ job easier and to get the boss promoted. This will enhance your promotability also.
  • Assess routine activities in which you are involved. Can any of them be eliminated or delegated?
  • Never underestimate a person’s potential. Delegate slightly more than you think the person is capable of handling. Expect them to succeed, and you will be pleasantly surprised more frequently than not.
  • Expect completed staff work from the individuals reporting to you. That is, they will come to you giving you alternatives and suggestions when a problem exists rather than just saying “Boss, what should we do?”
  • Do not avoid delegating something because you cannot give someone the entire project. Let the person start with a bite size piece, then after learning and doing that, they can accept larger pieces and larger areas of responsibility.
  • Agree on a monitoring or measurement procedure that will keep you informed as to progress on this project because you are ultimately still responsible for it and need to know that it is progressing as it should. In other words-If you can’t measure it don’t delegate it.
  • Keep your mind open to new ideas and ways of doing things. There just might be a better way than the way something has previously been done.
  • Delegation is not giving an assignment. You are asking the person to accept responsibility for a project. They have the right to say no.
  • Encourage your people to ask for parts of your job.
  • Never take back a delegated item because you can do it better or faster. Help the other person learn to do it better.
  • Agree on the frequency of feedback meetings or reports between yourself and the person to whom you are delegating. Good communication will assure ongoing success.
  • Delegation strengthens your position. It shows you are doing your job as a manager-getting results with others. This makes you more promotable.
  • Delegation is taking a risk that the other person might make a mistake, but people learn from mistakes and will be able to do it right the next time. Think back to a time a project was delegated to you and you messed it up. You also learned a valuable lesson.
  • Find out what the talents and interests of your people are and you will be able to delegate more intelligently and effectively.
  • A person will be more excited about doing a project when they came up with the idea of how to do it, than if the boss tells them how to do it.
  • Be sensitive to upward delegation by your staff. When they ask you for a decision on their project, ask them to think about some alternatives which you will then discuss with them. This way responsibility for action stays with the staff member.
  • Don’t do an activity that someone else would be willing to do for you if you would just ask them.
  • “Push” responsibility down in a caring helpful way.
  • Remember, you are not the only one that can accomplish an end result. Trust others to be capable of achieving it.
  • Break large jobs into manageable pieces and delegate pieces to those who can do them more readily.
  • Keep following up and following through until the entire project is done.
  • Resist the urge to solve someone else’s problem. They need to learn for themselves. Give them suggestions and perhaps limits but let them take their own action.

This Management & Personal Skills article was written by on 3/1/2005

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