Have you ever felt that your manager has been shirking their duties at times and been too controlling at others? Or that you never seem to get any higher-level responsibility despite your ability? This could mean that your management team hasn’t found an effective balance when it comes to delegating duties. If you are a manager and think you may be guilty of poor delegation you’re not alone – a 2007 study on time management found that close to half of the 332 companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ delegation skills. Delegating is not always as easy as it sounds; it can mean giving up control of incredibly important everyday tasks in order to empower employees or handing over important decision making to teams or groups within a business. Regardless of what is delegated, the individual who has to answer for any mistakes is the delegator, thus, delegation can be a particularly difficult, yet necessary management concept.
Delegation pros and cons
- One of the greater results of effective delegation in businesses, especially small to medium businesses (SMEs), is increasing the availability for higher management to focus on the growth of the venture; an executive who’s always on the sales floor doesn’t have much time to think about the long term.
- Delegation can give your employees more confidence and help them with their sense of belonging to a company, depending on the nature of the task delegated.
- Allowing employees to carry out certain tasks just beyond their level of responsibility allows you to assess your employees’ strengths and weaknesses – giving you an idea as to what certain employees are comfortable with taking on.
- Provides development opportunities for staff.
- Adds variety to work routines.
- In the short term, it may be faster for the experienced manager to do certain tasks themselves, even if they could be completed by another member of staff.
- Delegation may involve committing personal time and attention in the first instance, as well as the necessary support and training.
- The blame for poor completion of delegated tasks ultimately lies with the delegator.
- Higher management may be reluctant to delegate certain tasks, especially customer facing tasks, where the reputation of the business is on the line. See a comprehensive list of tasks it’s advised you should avoid delegating here.
How to delegate
- Be sure that employees are capable and comfortable with the tasks you are delegating to them, and if they need training, work it into their development plan; this short term effort will have long term time management gains.
- If you’re not delegating, find out why. Do you have confidence issues with your staff or find it difficult to let go of central management of a task?
- Delegation is a critical skill. “Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions so that the world doesn’t go to hell if you take a day off,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Professor of Organisational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. If you hold all the cards no one else can play. Whether you work in a small or large business, other members of staff should have knowledge of essential processes, so be careful not to hoard your workload.
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