Delegation; A crucial part of business operations

Delegation is widely understood to be the shifting of responsibility from one colleague to another (specifically between managers/team leaders and their team members). It occurs within business operations every day, however the importance of delegation on business productivity is often overlooked.

Why Do You Need to Delegate?

Some managers prefer to carry out as many tasks themselves as possible, without the need to rely on others for successful completion. However, this can result in managers becoming overwhelmed and overworked. Delegation has many benefits, including:

Freeing up your time – by spending less time on tasks that can be done by someone else, you will have more time in your working day to focus on your main roles and responsibilities.

Quality of work – as a result of having more time to focus on your main roles and responsibilities, you can be sure that the quality of your work will improve.

Two heads are better than one – giving a team member the opportunity to work on a project with you as opposed to completing it independently, will provide you with another perspective and potentially ideas that you never considered. This will increase the chances of achieving your goal in the most efficient way possible.

Improve your relationship with your team – by involving your team members in tasks that you wouldn’t usually, you’ll find yourself communicating with them more often and therefore building a stronger working relationship.

Increased employee satisfaction – trusting your team members with new responsibilities can make them feel empowered and increase motivation to do well in their role. This will lead to your team being more productive which will ultimately benefit the business.

Develop your managerial skills – by delegating tasks to others, you can focus on developing your skills and capabilities as a manager. You have more time to achieve your goals and broaden your horizons, which you may not have had the opportunity to do when focusing on other tasks.

“Success is best when it’s shared” – Howard Schultz understood how beneficial the feeling of achievement can be when felt by many as opposed to an individual. A goal accomplished thanks to the work of many, will bring a sense of achievement to every person who was involved. This sense of achievement will cascade throughout the organisation and motivate each team member to continue their success and reach for higher goals. This will have a much greater impact on the business than having only one individual with this drive and commitment.

 

The Delegation Process

It requires a lot of thought to delegate effectively, as there are many factors that need to be considered. The delegation process can be broken down into 6 steps:

Choose an appropriate task to delegate – as a manager you will have a long list of responsibilities, comprising of many tasks that you need to complete daily. Which of these would be appropriate to delegate to a team member? For example, carrying out individual performance reviews would not be appropriate to delegate. However, creating a training plan or amending training in place for a new member of staff, could be delegated to another employee.

Choose an appropriate person – choosing the right person/people to carry out a task is vital. This can be trickier than first perceived, because not only will you need to ensure you are choosing someone who can complete the task effectively, you will also need to consider what benefit this will have on their development. You will also need to decide if you are going to fully delegate the work, or if you still plan to be involved with some aspects.

Set clear objectives – you need to ensure you explain what is involved, why it’s important and what your expectations are.  You will also need to check that the relevant resources are available and the team member who is carrying out the work has the authority required. The objective should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely).

Implement delegation – brief the team member on their task. Ensure they fully understand what is required of them, and before ending the discussion make sure they are happy to move forward with this. It’s important this is done correctly so the team member can get on without any confusion. During the briefing, it would also be useful to get an idea on how they might approach the task, to ensure they start off on the right foot.

Keep track – check in periodically with the team member to make sure they are on track, and to go through any questions they may have. The reviews will vary in length and frequency, depending on the task in hand. If the team member is working on a short task over one month for example, you might decide to have a quick catch-up chat with them when they’re halfway through. However, for a longer, more time-consuming project that may last for 6 months for example, it would be better to organise a review for every 3-4 weeks, and ensure you set enough time aside to go through the review thoroughly.

Provide feedback – when your team member has successfully completed the task in hand, schedule to have one final review to go through your evaluation of their performance. This is important for the team member to understand what they have performed in well, and what areas they can work on in future tasks. It’s important to provide the feedback in a way that is constructive and positive, so they come away from the experience happy and motivated to continue to do well. There are several feedback models that you could research and apply to the evaluation if you require some guidance.

Summing Up

It’s crucial for every manager to ensure they delegate effectively. Delegation is important in the workplace not only because it benefits the manager, but it also benefits the team members involved, and overall business operations. Some training and briefing may be required to delegate, but the benefits of alleviating a manager’s workload will outweigh the briefing time required. From a long-term perspective, this will significantly improve team member’s job satisfaction and motivation, especially those looking to excel in their roles and progress further. Providing them with extra responsibilities and experiences is also likely to increase their commitment to the role and therefore reduce turnover. Although delegating can seem time-consuming and unproductive from a short-term perspective, the benefits highlighted clearly show that there are many long-term benefits if you delegate effectively.