Who should we delegate to?
I’m going to take this in two steps. The first is when you are just beginning to delegate or have never delegated before and the second is the use of delegation for development, when delegation is used widely already in your team.
Step one – When someone never or rarely delegates
Firstly, as delegation is a new activity for the team, you will need to explain and sell it to them, which will settle those suspicious minds from the start. Be careful not to allocate work to one or two people in the team regardless of how capable they are. They may feel unfairly put upon, or others in the team may become envious. Select the person to fit the task. However do take time to consider the impact on others and any repercussions that may come from your decision and deal with those issues up front.
Thinking of what tasks or duties would be valuable for you to delegate to your team member – for both yourself and for them – you then need to choose the best person for the job. The main aim here is to match the task to the person. Catalogue all the team members’ skills and then analyse using the questions below:
- What are the key strengths and weaknesses of each team member?
- Who currently has the ability to complete the task or be trained up to do it?
- What does each person in the team enjoy doing?
- Who has the motivation and confidence to undertake the task/duty?
- How will the added responsibility fit in with their current duties? If you don’t seriously consider this then you are dumping on your team.
- Which tasks/duties make the least contribution to your personal objectives?
- How many milestones/checkpoints should be used in the task?
The more involved you are the less effectively you are delegating. So don’t have more milestones than are truly needed.
Intervene only as a last resort if something goes wrong.
It is through mistakes that we learn the most; so make sure your team do not fear failure as this will affect their enthusiasm for future delegated tasks!
Don’t forget if something has gone wrong this is your mistake as you chose the task, the person and the milestones.
You must acknowledge the person’s achievements through verbal and written praise, with possibly a small gift etc. Also encourage your line managers to get involved with the praise. This builds confidence, loyalty and job satisfaction.
Step two – delegate to whole team to enhance development
Once you and the team are comfortable with delegation, you can use the above method to start to develop the team into being interdependent, rather than working independently of others. This again needs to be sold to the team as this is working on the interpersonal/behavioural side of the individuals involved as well as the tasks
Using the same criteria as above, now add in:
- What weaknesses of an individual could be strengthened by undertaking certain tasks?
- What training or coaching would be needed to help the individual?
- Who could provide the Training or coaching?
- Who could work in synergy on joint projects where the strengths and weaknesses are combined in learning from each other too?
- What development plans are in place for each individual and what task/duty or behaviour needs development – how could this addressed?
Once you have delegated everything it’s not as easy as sitting back and thinking ‘that’s me finished’. You need to monitor the delegated tasks and continually develop your staff to exercise their authority.
However there are certain managerial roles that you should never ever delegate: motivation, praising, performance reviews, promotions, reprimanding or team-building.
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Failing to provide the information, help, support and advice needed.
- Allowing the person you have delegated to, to dump the task or other parts of their work back on you or others.
- Tasks should be given to the most effective individual, not the longest serving members of the team.
- Delegating the work without providing the necessary and complete authority.
- Interfering, as this shows your lack of confidence in the individual.
- Neglect the follow-up on milestones.
- Abdicating overall responsibility – NEVER blame someone else for what is your responsibility.
Delegation is just another way of creating opportunity and developing and growing your people. That is your responsibility as a manager!