Delegation by Process

The modern workplace moves a little bit faster every year as we create faster and better ways of doing things.  A key part of being successful in this ever expanding environment is by delegating.  Although delegating has a rather bad rap with most employees, it is a key component of management effectiveness.  The negative connotations arise from the extremes: over and under delegation.  Most of us have witnessed a manager that delegated everything and left employees wondering what exactly is done with all of the free time.  This type of manager creates an unbearable environment where the employee does the work of a superior for what amounts to inferior compensation.  A more lucky few have probably seen the manager that tries to do it all because he or she has control issues, does not trust employees or just does not understand how to lead.  Both behaviors are damaging to the manager, employees, and work performed.

Although most discussion of delegation focuses on making the assignment, there is more involved in successful delegation.  Delegation has three key components: assign, monitor, and report.

Assign

After identifying and defining the task, the person to assume responsibility should be identified and the assignment made.  It is important that manager clearly articulate the task, resources available, level of responsibility, and expected time for completion.  As part of the assignment process, the manager should entertain any concerns that the employee has that impact successful completion of the task.  A common concern of employees is the current workload and the potential conflict with other assignments.  It is critical that these concerns be considered before and during assignment of the task.

Monitor

It is in everyone’s interest that the task be completed successfully.  The manager as well as the employee wins.  Too often, the manager views the assignment of the task as the end of his or her involvement until happily collecting the fruits of the employee’s labor.  A successful manager monitors progress on the task and provides any needed support.  Established reporting or meeting times provides structure for task management and ensures that resources, expectations, and outcomes remain aligned between the employee and the manager.

Feedback

Delivery of the required outcome is a key part of the delegation process, but should not be the terminal point.  The manager and the employee should evaluate the delegation experience, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate success.  An employee that handles the delegated tasks well is a true asset and should be developed and rewarded.

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