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Have you mastered the Art of Delegation?

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

When this topic came up for discussion between my friends and me, I was drawn back to my first job as a young lady.  Full of enthusiasm and wanting to do many great things, I started my job.  I was assigned a few tasks by my appointed manager and I started work with gusto.  Our manager was a great guy who always saw what we could do best and gave us opportunities to enhance our capabilities.  I remember what he once shared with our team, “Lions cannot afford to hunt mice because they literally will starve to death, even if they catch them. Lions and all large carnivores have to hunt game large enough to justify the investment, so they have to hunt antelope and zebra. Why is this important? Because most senior executives are really big on chipmunks.”  … Newt Gingrich

To be frank, I didn’t understand what it meant then.  Since I was a newcomer, I didn’t ask.  As time went and became more and more confident in my role, I had number of questions for which I wanted answers.  One was, “What did Mr. Amol mean by giving us the Lions example”.  And then it it fell into place.

He was telling us that we should not be like certain mid-managers and supervisors who were so busy doing tasks that did not add value to their role. Because of this they were always short of time to effectively plan and delegate or too busy to develop their people. Too busy to lead and take their organisation and their team towards growth. What he meant was, if the other managers would have delegated tasks effectively, the business would have seen a rapid growth, and that’s what we should do when we become managers.

So, what is Delegation? Delegation implies assigning responsibilities or authority to another person to conduct certain activities(usually by a superior to his subordinate). Delegation is one of the ways through which managers empower employees and make them feel valued by confidently relying on them. Organizations functioning with active involvement of employees excel beyond expectations. Thus delegation acts as a catalyst in improving the overall organizational efficiency.

Often managers refrain from delegating work to subordinates because they assume that they won’t live up to their expectations. Delegation signifies a good relationship between the superior and subordinate as superiors will hand over their responsibility and authority to subordinates only when they have trust and faith in them.

Several factors must be considered before delegating work which includes knowledge, experience, skills required and interest level of the employee in taking up the delegated task. Delegating the right work to the right employee, can significantly accelerate the process, which in turn will contribute towards achieving overall productivity, greater organization efficiency, team spirit and increased morale of employees.

Delegation comprises of 3 factors:

  • Responsibility: Delegation begins when manager passes on some of his responsibilities to his subordinates and allows them to work independently.

  • Authority: Authority means giving the power to take decisions. To carry on the responsibilities every employee need to have some authority.

  • Accountability: Accountability refers to answerability for the final outcome. It can be applied through regular feedback to know the extent of work accomplished.

A Manager must trust that his team members will deliver results.

So what are some of the measurable benefits derived from delegating tasks effectively:

  1. Facilitates overall learning and development of an employee Delegation allows employees to grow and learn new things. It results in skill development and enhancement of knowledge and abilities. It develops a quest in employees to learn and explore their potential to the fullest. It broadens their horizons and enables them to come up with creative ideas and solutions to problems at workplace. As quoted by Harvey Markay: “Delegating doesn’t mean passing off work you don’t enjoy, but letting your employees stretch their skills and judgments.”

  2. Positively impacts employee performance An employee, who is presented with challenging work along with an opportunity for growth and development is often motivated, to give his best. Empowering a team member through delegation helps the employee find their worth in the organization; Subordinates are motivated to perform well at their job when they have authority. Employees become self-confident and find innovative ways to do the same task in an efficient manner which impacts the overall productivity of the employee and in turn the organization.

  3. Develops team spirit Delegation of authority facilitates efficient communication between managers and employees. Employees are accountable to managers and the managers are responsible for the overall performance of employees. This strengthens the working relations between the superiors and subordinates and builds team spirit.

  4. Leads to division of work and specialization Delegation allows a manager to divide the work and allocate it to subordinates. This helps in reducing his workload as work gets distributed among the team members. Delegation of authority gives subordinates enough room and scope to enrich abilities and skills which leads to specialization. By delegating, a manager is in a position to bring efficiency in his work in an optimized manner.

  5. Sense of ownership and responsibility In the process of delegation, when the managers pass their responsibility and authority to employees, they are empowering employees to perform beyond their expectations. When employees are given authority they develop a sense of ownership and responsibility towards their work. They develop a passion to excel, resulting in greater performance efficiency. Through successful delegation, in the absence of manager, the work won’t suffer as employees become self-motivated to work. It results in timely completion of projects.

  6. Reduces the work load of managers Delegation allows managers to effectively distribute workload across the organization. It facilitates prioritization of significant tasks. Delegation alleviates functional burdens of managers reducing the physical and mental burden of managers. A great manager should never tell employees how to do things his way, rather tell them what is to be done and let them surprise you with great results. Remember TEAM implies Together Everyone Achieves More.

  7. Managers can focus on more important tasks By delegating tasks, managers can utilize their time to spend strategizing and conceiving new ideas and opportunities for organizational growth. With the reduction of load, managers can channelize their energies on important and critical issues related to business. In this way managers bring effectiveness in their deliverables. This helps a manager to prove his ability and skills and optimize his working efficiency in the best possible manner.

Have you mastered the Art of Delegation or still hunting chipmunks?

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