Team management: The art of delegation
Once in a while, you find a project manager that wants to keep all the decision making power to himself. However, it is my experience that most project managers would just as soon delegate some of the decision-making to the rest of the project team. In fact, you don't want your team members helplessly bringing you every problem that arises over the life of the project. You want to empower the team to make as many decisions as possible. This helps the project team feel more professional about their jobs and the level of responsibility they have. This can also help morale, since people generally feel better about their jobs if they feel they have a level of control over the things that impact them. As a project manager, you need to encourage people to accept responsibility and make decisions when appropriate. This helps the team run more efficiently and allows individuals to grow professionally. As a project manager, you need your team members to handle all the day-to-day problems and only bring items to you on an exception basis. At the same time, the project manager should resolve as many problems as he can, and only bring true issues to the sponsor for assistance. If you really empower your team with decision-making authority, it might seem that they will be able to handle any and all problems without taking them to the project manager. Actually, this would be taking the empowerment process too far. There are some problems that arise that will need to be escalated to the project manager. Likewise, there are some problems that the project manager will need to escalate to the sponsor and other appropriate managers. Here are some criteria to ask about the problem so that your project team knows whether the resolution is outside their control.
Will the resolution result in an impact to duration or cost? If there is, the project manager must be involved. The project team members cannot make changes to the project cost or duration without project manager, and probably project sponsor, involvement. Will the decision require you to go out of scope or deviate from previously agreed upon specifications? This happens all the time. In many cases, the project team members feel empowered to take on scope change requests. This is not right. Even if the scope change is made without impact to cost or schedule, the project manager must always be involved to manage changes to scope. Is the problem and/or potential resolution politically sensitive? If so, the project manager must be involved. These types of problems may require escalation to the sponsor and management team as well. Will the decision require you to miss a previously agreed upon commitment? If so, the project manager must be involved since he or she keeps the schedule and must be involved in any decisions that result in changes to an activity end date. Will the decision open the project to future risk? If so, the project manager must be involved, since the project manager is responsible for the risk management process.
If none of these conditions are true, then the team member can make the decision. It may sound like there is nothing left, but in fact, most of the decisions that are required on a day-to-day basis do not meet these criteria and can be made by the team or individual team members
Management hack: The sweet spot of delegation
Delegation has a sweet spot and it lies somewhere between the tightfisted grip of the control freak who can‘t give anything away, and the lackadaisical absentee manager who won‘t accept responsibility. Somewhere in there is a place where a manager can offer a chance for expanded responsibilities, with a safety net. It‘s the place where an employee can broaden their experience and know that failure is an option. As a manager, that‘s what I aim for. Delgation defined Delegation happens when a manager offers an employee an opportunity take on a task or project. Delgation is an offer, not a demand. Managers can delegate a lot of their work (in theory, at least), but they can‘t give away their ultimate responsibility for that work. Managers can bestow certain authorities, but they can‘t pass off their responsibilities. Delgation isn‘t the same as assignment, and that throws some folks for a loop. Since assignments are part of the job description, they can‘t really be turned down (though they can certainly be botched on purpose). Delegated tasks are tasks that are part of the manager’s job description, though, so employees ought to know that they really can consider turning down delegated tasks. Strategies Let‘s look for a moment at the idea of turning down a delegated task. If you‘ve got a good manager and you enjoy your work, you probably won‘t turn down an offer of delegation because you know it means more fun work and it only raises your profile. In my opinion, there aren‘t many times when it‘s a good idea to turn down a delegated task. The more likely scenario is that you can renegotiate the task. You may see that you‘re being asked to do only a portion of what needs to be done. This can often be a path to failure if your portion is dependant upon another person‘s outcome and there aren‘t clearly defined feedback channels (there usually aren‘t). Consider asking for the whole task or process rather than a slice of it. Conversely, you may see that you‘re being asked to do something for which there are no obvious supporting resources. Probably worth negotiating those in, or at least brainstorming with your boss about how to bootstrap the project. If you‘ve got the control freak manager, then you probably won‘t get anything delegated to you, but in the unlikely event that you do, and you accept it, you‘ll be on a leash the whole time. The best strategy here is to set up a firm front-end agreement as to the outcome, resources and timeline. Also set up regular review meetings, no more frequently than weekly, though the exact timing will depend upon the nature of the project and just how controlling your manager is. The idea here is to provide the control freak manager with sufficient external controls that they feel comfortable letting go. If they keep bugging you, just remind them of the agreeement and let them know that the two of you can discuss things at the next regularly scheduled review. If you‘ve got a manager who tends toward the absentee side of the spectrum, the strategy is essentially the same, though the emphasis is heavier on the regular review meetings. Again, the timing of the meetings ought to be tied to your specific project and your manager‘s disposition. Unlike the micromanager scenario, reviews with the absentee manager are more for your own peace of mind than for theirs. You‘ll want to give them a brief update on progress and roadblocks. You‘ll probably be doing a lot of ―managing up‖ so you‘ll want to be sure your follow-up is flawless. The tried and true, ―death by next action‖ technique is well served here. If you‘ve got a next step that‘s hung up on your manager‘s to-do list, just keep sending friendly reminders via email, with increasing frequency and urgency, until the task gets done, or the project blows up. If you‘re the manager and you‘re overloaded, delegation ought to be one of your first considerations. Take a look around at staff and determine whose skills and interests most closely match the project or task at hand. Resist the temptation to pass it to the person who has been the most competent over time, or with whom you communicate most easily. Look hard and objectively at what people are good at. A huge part of a manager‘s job is helping people develop new skills and fine tune old ones–don‘t take the easy way out. If you sense resistance to the offer of delegation, explore it. On the surface, the employee is probably pointing at the clock and saying they don‘t have time for this. A little deeper examination might reveal a little bit of fear. Maybe it‘s a simple fear of failure, maybe they don‘t want you to know they don‘t really understand the task, or maybe they don‘t believe there are sufficient resources available. The ―time excuse‖ usually doesn‘t hold water, but be open to the possibility that it might. If this is really the right person for the job, look at ways you can clear their plate for a while, or perhaps delay the delagated task until they‘re able to clear the decks. Don‘t be vague in this conversation, though. Set clear benchmarks and goals for clearing the decks, just as you would (right?) for the delegated task itself. The manager’s risks of delegation I don‘t pretend to know all the risks associated with delegation, but there are a few obvious ones. Following are descriptions of the risks and their associated antidotes.
Coming from a blog with a name like Slacker Manager, the first and most obvious risk is that people will think you‘re just trying to dodge your responsibilities by delegating everything away. Antidote: be clear about the fact that you‘re sharing responsibility. You (the manager) will maintain as much communication as needed throughout the life of the delegated task. All success will be theirs. You‘d like to say all failure will be yours, but that isn‘t always true. If they make some really boneheaded decisions, you‘ll both suffer. Otherwise, you can take the heat for their learning curve. Another risk is that you‘ll end up with yet another project to manage. Antidote: don‘t fall into this trap. Hold on loosely. Keep an eye on things, have regular check-ins, but don‘t hover like a den mother. You don‘t need another project to manage, and they don‘t need a micromanager breathing down their neck. A related risk is that you‘ll lose control of [insert your fear here]. Antidote: Get over it. You‘ve got a job title that ensures your responsibilities. There should never be a question of who owns what. If there ever is a question, then it‘s time for a hard conversation with either the person who reports to you, or between you and your boss. If it‘s between you and your boss, bring a copy of your job description to the conversation. Go in with the best intentions, but get your resume polished up. Failure is a reasonable risk. Antidote: Failure happens and by now all enlightened managers ought to understand that evidence of failure indicates a willingness to innovate. Doesn‘t make it any easier to accept failures, but at least you know you and your folks are planting seeds for future success. Don‘t fear failure; face it, measure it, fix the problems that caused it and keep on keeping on. General delegation tips for managers
Set context. When delegating, setting context is a great idea. Let folks know why this is important, how it‘s good for them and how it‘s good for others. Individualize. Don‘t delegate willy nilly. Assess the skills of the folks available and match tasks to skills. Remember responsibility. Don‘t forget that the responsibility for the task or project ultimately belongs to you. Accept the risks. ‗Nuff said. Negotiate the delgation. Make sure you have sufficient information, authority and resources; negotiate when needed. Consider saying no. There can be legitimate times when it‘s not appropriate for you to accept delegated tasks. It‘s rare, though, so tread lightly here. Meet regularly. This is easy to let slide, so be aware. Regular meetings not only ensure you and your boss are on the same page, it also alerts you to changes on the landscape of your project. This is notice you might not get anywhere else.
General tips for delegatees
Delegating without losing control
Appropriate use of power
Inappropriate use of power or poor delegation can lose commitment from project members and even create resentment or resistance to your goals. On the other hand, as Project Manager you need to retain control to ensure that the project meets its goals. In fact, Project Managers often feel such a need to retain control that they are uncomfortable with delegating power - it feels as if control is being lost and that unnecessary risk is being introduced to the project. The trick, therefore, is to delegate without losing control.
Keeping hands-on and hands-off at the same time
You can do this, bearing in mind the levels of power from the previous section:, using the following tactics:
Use the minimum power necessary to achieve the desired outcome Use a small amount of power at first, and if that doesn't work then escalate your use of power Do not abuse power - ie: do not use power to achieve a result for which you have no authorisation or is purely for your own personal gain Delegate as much power as practical, starting from the top of the triangle (ie delegate decisions, whilst setting the agenda). A simple example is that you ask other people to make a decision between two choices, but you make sure the two choices are both ones that you are happy with. Eg: if you think something has to be done, you ask: "Would you be able to do this today, or would it have to wait until next week?" not "Would you like to do this?" - the latter question gives them the option of saying 'no'. Have strategic "checkpoints" that tell you how each person is progressing with their work. Take close interest at the checkpoints, but let people get on with their work between them. Eg: if an experienced project member is producing a computer program, you might ask them to meet with you to discuss the outline design, when they have completed it. Don't wait until they have finished writing the program - that's too late to spot anything going wrong. Neither should you get overinvolved, eg: going to meetings with them to investigate detailed requirements - that demonstrates a lack of trust in their ability to do the job.
When you perfect these techniques, you can not only let others make decisions, but also set the agenda - providing you retain control over the environment. You retain control because you delegate the top levels of power, but retain control over the bottom, more powerful levels. However, project members will view your approach as more "hands off", letting them take more responsibility.
How can you make better use of power in your project?
When delegation becomes a problem
TechRepublic member RC Lopez expressed some frustration at a manager who often identifies tasks for others to do but then jumps in and takes care of them himself before anyone has a chance to do anything. RC wrote: "By not delegating, the manager gives the impression that he either doesn't trust anyone to do the job or that he is trying to be a maverick." RC touched on a deadly sin for any manager—delegating tasks to staff only to snatch them back again before they can be accomplished. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake for many new managers who have not yet learned how and what to delegate or how to demonstrate the patience necessary to see the process through to its conclusion. Delegation is not an instinctive reaction for most human beings, but effective managers recognise the importance of delegation—both for the sake of their own success as leaders and for the overall health of the team. They learn how to determine what should and should not be delegated and what it will take to help staff be successful at the delegated tasks. When entering the "delegation zone," you should follow these guidelines:
Accept that delegation is important. Plan your delegation strategy. Use common sense when delegating. Give your staff a chance to succeed. Examine your personal motivations when delegating.
Let's examine each of these a bit further. Accept that delegation is important Delegation is a key part of being a good manager. To be successful, you need to demonstrate the vision to understand broad goals and objectives for the team and then determine what it will take to get there. This will most often involve relinquishing specific tasks and responsibilities to others so you can spend more time managing team members, enriching their skills and keeping morale high. Delegation is much more than a nice thing to do—it is an essential thing to do. Plan your delegation strategy Think carefully about what tasks and responsibilities can or should be delegated. A machine gun approach to delegation, where task assignments are made on a whim or without much thought, will create a chaotic work environment. Start by determining what your core responsibilities are. Then, determine what responsibilities can be delegated to others. These will involve activities that are important but that do not define your role as team leader, or compromise your ability to manage if you hand them off. Use common sense when delegating Take a realistic look at your work team before committing to delegation. If a highly competent staff person is already working overtime to keep up with her work, don't surprise her with the good news that you are adding more responsibilities to her plate. Discuss the reasons for delegating responsibilities with the person who is to receive them and develop an implementation plan. It may be useful to share this discussion with the entire work team to receive feedback on how the process will affect everyone on the team. Give your staff a chance to succeed Make sure that staff members who receive delegated responsibilities have the skills and experience needed to succeed. Don't assume that staff members will figure things out on their own—provide mentoring and training if necessary. It is also important to thoroughly explain your performance expectations and then closely monitor how things are going. This does not
mean that you will jump in and take over the responsibilities at the first sign of trouble. Rather, you anticipate potential problems and ensure that staff members have the support needed to deal with them successfully. Examine your personal motivations when delegating An ineffective manager will often earn the reputation for passing off unpleasant assignments or "hot potatoes" to staff members. Ask yourself why you are delegating a responsibility to someone else. If it is because it is unpleasant or is one of those thankless tasks that almost always leads to negative feedback from others, consider keeping it. Your team will usually see through motives that are self-serving or based on avoidance. An example scenario Let's consider the following scenario, which illustrates these important points about delegation. Betty is a vice president for operations for a medium-size company in the Midwest. She recently hired Ray as a new LAN administrator and was anticipating that he would do a great job. He did not have much management experience but had an impressive technical background and a nice, easygoing personality. Betty walked by Ray's office one day and saw him with his head in his hands. Since he seemed in some distress, she asked him what was wrong. Ray explained that he had recently delegated responsibilities for LAN technical modifications to a support team member, Ron. However, things were not going very smoothly, and he was ready to throw in the towel and take the responsibilities back. Betty asked Ray three questions:
Did you thoroughly brief Ron on what your expectations were and the timeline for achieving results? Does Ron have the skills and experience to take on such an important task? How long had it been since he delegated the responsibilities to Ron?
Ray said that he felt that Ron had been properly briefed on his new responsibilities although he did acknowledge that there had not been a formal meeting to ensure that expectations were clear. Ray also indicated that Ron seemed to have the skills and ability to take on the assignment, but that he had never actually been responsible for such a large project before. Finally, Ray acknowledged that it had been only two weeks since he delegated responsibility for the technical modifications to Ron. Betty suggested that Ray keep Ron on the assignment but that he sign him up for a project management training course that was being held later that week. Betty also recommended that Ray set up a schedule of briefings where Ron could update Ray on progress and receive advice from Ray on how to handle problems and issues. Betty complimented Ray for his diligence in making sure that the LAN modifications went smoothly. However, she advised him to take a deep breath and then focus on managing the process so that his staff person had the greatest chance to succeed. The moral of this story is that delegation does not generally come naturally to people. It is a process that needs to be managed and requires considerable planning and monitoring to be successful. Final thoughts To be an effective manager, you must learn to use delegation as a way to increase the knowledge and skills of staff members while freeing up your time to focus on management. Delegation can be time consuming and distracting, especially if employees lack experience with what they are being asked to do. The commitment to using delegation as a management tool requires patience and the willingness to work through problems that will undoubtedly occur. However, the long-term payoff in the efficient workflow of the team and positive morale of its members can far outweigh any short-term difficulties experienced. Two useful books on delegation are The Agile Manager's Guide to Delegating Work by Joseph T. Straub (1998) and Delegation and Empowerment: Leading with and Through Others by Michael E. Ward with Bettye MacPhail-Wilcox (1999).
A Fresh Look at Delegation - 10 Ideas for Action
Delegation is something that we, as project managers, must do excellently in order to be managers, and very skillfully to be leaders. At first glance, it would seem that delegating work to subordinates, but actually doing it well is often much more complex. In my experience, I have found that in order to delegate effectively, you must earn respect. Respect can be earned in a number of ways. Here are a few: 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the task at hand. 2. Offer the task as a challenge. 3. Show your own willingness and ability to do the task. 4. Demonstrate your understanding of the importance of the task and how it fits into the big picture. 5. Share the overall plan with the delegate in order to provide them with the perspective. 6. Communicate the task clearly, and ask for feedback to assure understanding. 7. Be likeable. 8. Show that you are respected by stakeholders in and around the project. 9. Show a very sincere willingness to support the delegate through the task to completion. 10. Be willing to give credit - publicly - to the person performing the task. Everyone works in a different environment - large corporation, government organization, small company, entrepreneurial venture, consulting organization, not-for-profit, in the military - and in a multitude of cultures. The practical application of the items on the list above will vary depending upon these environmental factors. So, how can we become a better delegator and apply the ideas on the list? We can become smarter by getting to know ourselves better, getting to know our organizations well, and getting to know other people well. I know that is a mouthful, but it is true, and it is actually easy to start. First, some introspection helps. Ask a few questions and be honest. What do I do best/poorest? In what situations do I excel/fall short? How do others see me, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, style, and tendencies? It may seems strange that this would help with delegation, but you can only help others and get the most from them when you know how to get the most from yourself. Second, by getting to know the nuances of our organization, we can become familiar with the centers of power, the sway to get things done, and what to prioritize. This will help us to get the big picture, and to share and hand it off to someone else. Third, by getting to know other people well, we develop the ability to take honest and sincere interest, and to be truly sensitive to the uniqueness of people. We learn to find and utilize strengths in those around us. A final point. Delegating does not always mean that you are in charge. In a world of flat and matrix organizations, and in consulting situations, we often do not have the authority to simply offload the work. So se can delegate in a skillful way by forming alliances, trading services, and many other means that draw on the same rich set of skills.
Delegating to Succeed through Others
“Never tell a person how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
Most managers and supervisors have heard about delegation. We have read about it. We know that it is important for supervisors to practice. But, like many of the skills presented in this book, very few managers or supervisors take the time to study and practice how to be an effective delegator. Yet to be successful in their jobs, the concept of delegation is vitally important to supervisors and managers. There are many benefits to effective delegation. 1. Delegation extends the results from what one person can accomplish to what many people can accomplish. By involving others, we have the potential to get more things accomplished in our area of influence. In addition, we are likely to get new ideas and approaches to solve problems by tapping the input and brain power of others. 2. Delegation frees up our time to get the most important things accomplished. Many of the tasks that supervisors and managers do can be completed by their employees. By delegating routine and ongoing tasks, managers will have time for more critical tasks, for leadership activities, and for innovation and problem prevention. 3. Delegation develops our employees. When we delegate tasks to employees, we in effect say, “You’ve got what it takes to do this job.” This will enhance levels of trust between the employee and supervisor. Delegation is a critical employee development tool. 4. Delegation helps to empower our employees by taking the decision-making process to the appropriate level. Decisions involving problems at different levels of the organization are often better if they are made by the people who are actually doing the work. Making decisions at levels where employees are making the product or dealing with customers fosters motivation and a sense of ownership for the task at hand.
How Are You at Delegating?
How well do you delegate? As a supervisor, answer each question according to your current work structure by circling either a Yes or No response. Scoring Key: Give yourself one point for each Yes answer. A good score is anything above 12. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No I give my employees new tasks, even though they may make a mistake. My employees get promotions at least as frequently as other people with equivalent responsibility in our organization. I very seldom take work home or work late at the office. My operation functions smoothly when I am absent. I spend more time on planning and supervision than working on details. My employees feel they have sufficient authority over personnel, finances, facilities, and other resources. My follow-up procedures are adequate. I don’t overrule or reverse decisions made by my employees. I never bypass my employees by making decisions that are part of their jobs. I don’t do things that my employees could—and should—be doing. If I were incapacitated for six months, there is someone who could take my place. My key employees delegate well to their own employees.
13. 14. 15.
Yes Yes Yes
No No No
When I return from an absence, there is not a pile of paperwork requiring my action. My employees take initiative in expanding their authority with delegated projects without waiting for me to initiate all assignments. When I delegate, I specify the expected results, not how the tasks are to be done.
Common Mistakes in Delegation and How to Avoid Them
When managers do decide to delegate, there are often mistakes made that can negatively impact the employee’s ability to do the job. After reviewing the following common mistakes, determine how you can avoid making these errors. 1. Display an attitude to the workforce of, “I can do it better myself.” This is prevalent because most supervisors started out doing the job, and often feel that they are still the best person to “do the job”— even though they have been promoted out of the job into supervision. Believe in your employees’ abilities. They just might surprise you! 2. Failure to keep employees informed about plans the supervisor has for the operation. Some supervisors delegate tasks without providing all the necessary information to do the task successfully. Many supervisors leave out the big picture—the information about future goals, plans, and important organizational decisions. Employees must be fully informed to make the best possible decisions for the organization. 3. Failure to require, receive, and/or utilize progress reports. When you do not have a method to check on the employee’s progress, two things happen. First, you communicate to the employee that the task delegated to him or her is not important. Second, you may set yourself and the employee up for failure. Set specific times to check progress from the beginning of delegation through completion. Remember, these checkpoints are designed to help the delegation process, not hinder its success. 4. Unwillingness to let employees supply their own ideas. When you do not ask for your employee’s ideas and opinions, you are communicating that you do not value the employee. You are also limiting your opportunity to gain new information. Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got! Encourage employees to be creative and give their ideas about ways to complete the task. 5. Tendency to “dump projects.” Dumping projects usually occurs when the supervisor has not taken the time to plan the delegation properly. So, at a moment’s notice, the supervisor assigns the project to the employee. This greatly increases the chances of the project being done incorrectly. To ensure that the delegation is successful, take time to plan the delegation, pick the right person for the job, and discuss the task and its expected outcomes. 6. Failure to give the employee credit for shouldering responsibility. Typically, supervisors who do not delegate like to take all the credit in their area of influence. When an employee does take responsibility, no praise or recognition is given by the supervisor. Give credit where credit is due. You will not only gain an enthusiastic employee, but also a loyal one! 7. Inattention to project completion. Not recognizing a project’s completion will practically guarantee that the next project delegated will be completed late, if at all. This reinforces the supervisor’s negative feelings about delegating in the first place. Take a moment to acknowledge task completion. You can also use this opportunity to praise a job well done or to refine or train new skills. 8. Lack of respect for the employee’s ambitions. Supervisors who do not delegate usually do not have an interest in developing their employees. This leads employees to feel that the supervisor does not care about them. When employees feel that the boss does not care about them, their motivation and respect for their supervisor decreases. So, get to know your employees. Find out their strengths, weaknesses, and their ambitions. If possible, support those ambitions. Help them grow.
Deciding What to Delegate
There are four basic steps in deciding what tasks you presently do that could be delegated:
Step One: Analyze Your Job
The easiest way to analyze your job is to make a list of at least ten tasks that you perform on a daily basis. Create your list in the “Preparing for Delegation” form below. The more complete the list is, the better understanding you will have of the tasks you may want to delegate.
Preparing for Delegation
First, list ten of the activities you do on your job. Activity 1. Category Percentage
Step Two: Categorize Your Activities
Second, categorize each of your activities into one of the following four categories: RO for routine or ongoing activities, FF for fire-fighting or problem-solving activities, PR for proactive or initiative-taking activities, and ED for employee development or "helping-people-to-grow" activities. Now, go back and categorize the activities you listed above.
Step Three: Estimate the Percentage of Time in Each Category
Estimate the percentage of time you spend on each activity listed in “Preparing for Delegation” and record that amount in the column above marked “Percentage.” Then, transfer those amounts into this section below, remembering that the total should add up to 100%. RO ACTIVITIES_______ FF ACTIVITIES _______ PR ACTIVITIES _______ ED ACTIVITIES _______ TOTAL: 100% Research shows that the typical supervisor spends 50% of his or her time on routine activities, another 30 to 40% on fire-fighting activities, and only 10 to 20% on proactive initiative-taking and employee-developing activities. To gain more time for problem prevention and employee development, you have to decide which routine activities you can delegate and to whom.
Step Four: Decide What to Delegate and to Whom
Study the information you have gathered so far, especially concentrating on the RO tasks. Which of these, as well as any of the others, could you delegate? Use “Planning Your Delegation” below to help you prepare for delegation.
Planning Your Delegation
List the tasks you could delegate, to whom, by when, and the average number of minutes each day you will save if you delegate the task. In determining who to delegate the task to, consider employee development and learning. Are you selecting the appropriate person for the task? Task To Whom By When Minutes Saved 1. The reason we ask you to list the approximate number of minutes you will save each day if you delegate the task is because most people do not realize how a few minutes each day begins to quickly add up. “Time Value of Delegation” (below) displays how minutes each day quickly add up into full 8-hour days when considered on a yearly basis. If you were able to delegate just one task that takes 60 minutes each day, at the end of the year you would have 44 full 8-hour days to be spent another way. That is almost a full month of extra productivity to do more important leadership tasks.
Time Value of Delegation
Minutes Each Day the Task Takes 15 minutes each day 30 minutes each day
Number of 8-Hour Days Per Year 11 full 8-hour days each year 22 full 8-hour days each year
60 minutes each day 44 full 8-hour days each year Another way to look at this is to ask, “How much is my time or my employees’ time worth?” To find out what that means to you, study “Delegation Savings” below. Locate your approximate yearly income on the left side of the exhibit and then see what saving an extra hour a day could mean to your success and your organization’s profits. When we look at the value of our time, it usually adds up much faster than we think.
Yearly Income $20,000 $25,000 $30,000 $35,000 $40,000 $45,000 $50,000
Per Hour $ 9.62 $12.02 $14.42 $16.83 $19.23 $21.63 $24.04
Hour a Day All Month $202.02 $252.42 $302.82 $353.43 $403.83 $454.23 $504.84
Hour a Day All Year $2,501 $3,125 $3,749 $4,376 $5,000 $5,624 $6,250
$60,000 $28.85 $605.85 $7,501 Note: Income divided by 2080 (52 weeks x 40 hours) for per hour rate. Month as 21 days. Year as 260 days.
Planning to Delegate Responsibility to the Employee
Now that you have determined what tasks to delegate to whom, take a few moments to plan for the delegation. To do this, you need to answer the following questions: 1. What is the overall goal or purpose of the task? 2. What specific results do I expect? 3. What does the task entail? What specific elements or skills are needed to complete the task successfully? 4. What resources are available to the employee to get the task accomplished? 5. What checkpoints or follow-up agreements need to be made?
Presenting the Delegation
After you have planned for the delegation, you should be clear on your expectations for getting the job done. These expectations must now be made clear to your employee. Keep in mind that your employee is likely to have some good ideas to offer, so plan on soliciting ideas from him or her as well. Below is a process for ensuring delegation success. Be sure to follow each of the seven steps.
Step One: Explain Overall Goal and Purpose
This critical first step lets the employee know the importance and value or relevancy of the task. You will find you get better results if you begin by explaining the big picture, the overall purpose of the task, prior to explaining any of the small details. When employees understand the overall goal, they make better decisions.
Step Two: Outline Expected Results
Once the employee understands the overall goal and importance of the task, he or she needs to know exactly what is expected. Do not get this important step confused with the next step, describing the task. The purpose here is to ensure that you and your employee see the same end result and agree when that result will be in place.
Step Three: Describe Task (optional)
This step is usually for inexperienced employees who have never done the task. You may need to provide some training here. If the task is a large or complex one, break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces for easier explanation. The purpose of this step is to ensure that the employee knows how to do the job. For
experienced employees, let them decide. As long as they know the expected results, they can decide how to do the job. And guess what? They may have a better way to do it!
Step Four: Discuss Resources
To do the job effectively, employees need to know what resources are available to them to get the task accomplished. Are they able to purchase equipment or supplies? Are they able to involve other employees? Are they able to enlist the help of other departments? If it takes working overtime, is overtime authorized? Be specific, so the employee is clear on what resources are and are not available.
Step Five: Confirm Understanding; Get Commitment
Here is where you make sure that you made yourself clear. Ask your employee to restate in his or her own words what is expected. You want to do this for two reasons: (1) it involves the employee and (2) you have confirmed knowledge whether the employee understands the task at hand. Encourage the employee to ask any questions to confirm understanding. Last, ask the employee for his or her commitment in completing the task within the agreed-upon time frame. Without commitment, the task may not be done.
Step Six: Ask for Ideas
One of the best ways to empower and motivate your employees is to ask for their ideas. If you tell the employee how you have done the task in the past, make sure you ask him or her for ideas and suggestions on how to complete the task this time. When employees are given the opportunity to provide their own ideas, they take more responsibility for the completion of the task. When you ask for their ideas, be quiet and really listen. Very often a fresh perspective can provide great new ideas, especially if you have “always done it this way.”
Step Seven: Establish Follow-Up Plan
The next step is to establish some guidelines for working together. The supervisor always bears ultimate accountability for any delegated task. No supervisor can afford to turn an employee completely loose on a project. To ensure the fulfillment of supervisory responsibilities, a supervisor has to give adequate and proportionate attention to the people delegated the assignments. Schedule follow-ups at certain completion steps throughout the task. Remember, someone at some time in your career gave you room to grow, you made some mistakes, and hopefully, you learned from the mistakes you made. The same process will prove equally valuable to your employees.
Tips for Success: Delegation
1. To be successful as a supervisor or manager, you have to delegate. 2. Remember that effective delegation will not only expand productivity but will also serve as an employee development tool. 3. List your typical daily activities and determine what percentage are routine, fire-fighting, proactive, or employee development. To be successful, spend more time in the proactive and employee development categories. 4. Calculate the value of your time. Remember, if you delegate a task that only takes you 15 minutes a day, at the end of the year you will have gained 11 full 8-hour days. 5. Plan the delegation. The better your preparation, the better your employees will accomplish the delegated task. 6. When you delegate, present the overall goal and outline the results expected. Do not tell the employee how to do the task, unless he or she is learning for the first time. 7. Discuss what resources are available to get the delegated task completed. 8. Confirm understanding, ask for the employee’s ideas, and ask for his or her commitment to get the task accomplished. 9. Establish methods of working together and following up. 10. After you have delegated the task, ensure that the employee maintains ownership of the task