Delegation can be defined as a grant of authority by one party to an-other. Legally and business wise, the delegator remains both responsible and accountable for all the delegate’s commissions and omissions in undertaking the task apportioned. A manager without a team that reports to him or her cannot delegate. Effective delegation is a crucial leadership skill and it gives birth to the efficient balancing of workloads, which provide developing opportunities to the subordinates involved. This is because, intelligent and effective delegation creates positive and motivating environment, a good recipe for the managers to achieve their departmental goals, while providing fertile grounds for the subordinates to grow their careers.

effective delegation gives birth to the efficient balancing of workloads, which provide developing opportunities to the subordinates involved.

Control freaks

Managers must be well trained to get rid of ‘the monstrous control freak’ in some of them which makes them struggle to accomplish impossible goals. Some managers are genuinely overworked, yet they shy away from delegating. They wear the unpopular “overworked tag” as a badge of honor while rendering the attainment of the organization’s objectives implausible. Managers who are allergic to delegation are always operating in a crisis; they work long hours, running the risk of compromising their health. These kinds of managers are a serious liability to the businesses and should at best be dethroned and replaced with leaders who believe in teamwork. They forget that, an effective manager is one who achieves his or her goals through subordinates.

Amy Gallo in her article published by the Harvard Business Review on 26th July 2012 titled “Why Aren’t you Delegating?” points out the fact that managers who are overworked are aware of the importance of delegating to their juniors but consciously or sub-consciously avoid doing so. She wonders why an intelligent manager will avoid delegating while they know that it will save them time, improve the level of efficiency, increase productivity and profitability while helping others develop new skills. As a manager, it is imperative to critically analyze your work habits with a view of determining the degree to which you entrust tasks to your subordinates.

 Below are some signs to look out for:

  • Do you normally find yourself overwhelmed by work while your team members don’t seem to have enough to do?
  • Are your communications lines open such that your subordinates are free to request for more work to enable them achieve their deliverables?
  • Do you find yourself micromanaging your subordinates when you delegate duties to them?
  • Are you impatient with your subordinates?
  • Are you a career egotist whose only concern is drawing attention to yourself with the belief that you are the only one who possess the ‘super’ competences for the work at hand?
  • When is the last time you evaluated skills gaps in your team and proposed a training to bridge the gap?
  • Do you suffer from low self-confidence fearing to be upstaged by your subordinates once you give them an opportunity?
  • Steps to help you delegate Amy decried the fact that delegation is one of the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capabilities, yet it is the base of superior-subordinate relationship.

Below are some helpful tips a manager can use to effectively delegate:

Step 1- Assignment of duties.

The manager should define the tasks and duties to be delegated. He or she should also define the expected results with clear timelines. Verbal delegation should be avoided especially where the tasks are sensitive.

Step 2- Granting authority. Once the

manager identifies the tasks and duties to be delegated, competent subordinates should be identified. Every subordinate must be provided proper guidelines and then allowed sufficient time and independence to carry out the tasks.

Step 3- Creating responsibility and accountability.

Delegates must provide regular updates on the progress within the agreed time frames. The manager must command respect and authority over the subordinates for delegation to be effective and productive.

Step 4- Continuous review of progress.

Some delegations might result in business losses especially where the manager forgets to offer hands-on supervision or where the relationship between the manager and his or her subordinates has hit rock-bottom. The employees in this case may have developed apathy and frustrate the manager’s quest for meeting the set deadlines.

Since delegating work is a risk, managers must always have a Plan B as a way of cushioning themselves and the business from the effects of lethargic de-motivated subordinates. Nevertheless, the benefits of delegating outweigh the drawbacks.

Benefits of delegation

  1. Proper delegation enables the manager cure his or her control freak habits.
  2. Lowers the risk burning out.
  3. Delegating frees time for creativity and innovation. Everyone working under you has unique skills and abilities that are valuable to you and the organization.
  4. Delegation boosts morale across the team. It is an auto-communication to your team that you have faith in them and can lead to a higher commitment to do their best.

Experts quips that, ‘a manager with the ability to delegate and also recognize the team’s effort grows his or her career seamlessly’.

Author: Goretti Kimani.

posted on the Kenya Institute Of Management Magazine.