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Effective Management and the Art of Delegation

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by Mark Smith

about 3 years ago

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There are literally thousands of books, endless studies and even more blog posts on how to manage staff. Adding to this enormous amount of content, I thought I would write a few words on what I think is by far the most important skill any manager can have: the art of delegation.

'If I do it myself, I know it has been done properly.'

Let’s be clear: delegation is not walking away from a task so you can do other things. It is, in fact, a sharing of accountability. Getting the task done properly remains your responsibility, regardless of whether you actually undertake the tasks yourself. Through delegation, you can then take on greater responsibility, but how can you achieve this? Be absolutely clear when asking for something to be done, i.e. what needs to be done, when and, most importantly, why the task needs undertaking. Your staff can then progress and work out how to undertake the task. The best way to describe this would be to delegate the objective, not the procedure.

'It's quicker to do it myself.'

Choosing who will undertake the task is critical in ensuring the task is completed on time. My view here is to make sure you are aware of the competencies of your team. Recruiting the best person for the role and for your culture is an important factor in leading a team. Getting your recruitment right gives you greater choice when delegating. If you have a task that is detailed in nature, don't give it to your strategic thinker. Make sure you match the competencies of your people to the task. In regular feedback sessions, I would suggest you ask your team what additional tasks they would enjoy undertaking. Those who have expressed an interest in a particular area are going to be more motivated, and you simply will not know if you don't ask the question! Simply calling for volunteers can also help when choosing a task. You may be surprised who expresses an interest.

'I don’t have the time for training, as I am the only one who knows how to do it!'

If you delegate effectively, you will free up some time. Use this time to support those around you. This can be as simple as communicating with them, which also builds trust and confidence for both you and the person undertaking the task. Reviewing their progress, hopefully to clearly defined outcomes, will also reap rewards in the long run. The old proverb is true: 'Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day, but teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.' Finally, I would say don't be a Scrooge with your money and time. Allocate resources so that people can get the job done effectively. Don't set people up to fail. Whether you are a new manager or someone who has been managing for a while, I would highly recommend practising the art of delegation. The outcomes will be very rewarding for both yourself and your staff.

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