As managers we have to decide how much authority to give to our employees, this is what delegation of authority is all about.
When we delegate, we are giving a piece of our job to our employees, or to a team of employees.
The simple reason we delegate is to ‘accomplish goals through the efforts of others’.
Here are my five principles of delegation of authority.
1. Match authority with responsibility for tasks
If you give one of your team responsibility to find ways of cutting costs, you have to give them authority to act on the assessment and recommend actions to follow.
To often I see managers fail with delegation as they fail to provide employees with the authority required to complete the delegated task.
If you are going to delegate anything, be sure that the employee completing the task has the authority required to not only work on the research side, but also be able to execute their recommendations.
2. Delegate to the lowest organisation level possible
When I say this, I mean delegate to a level at which employees, or self-directed teams who know what to do, can act responsibly on behalf of the firm.
This is critical because it can make the difference between high quality products, or disappointing products which are matched by poor service.
When well trained employees have responsibility for product quality and service, it is appropriate to give them responsibility for cost control too.
3. Only get involved when a problem arises
This is an area I’m sure we’ve all had difficulties with, as a leader it’s tempting to get involved in everything.
But for any delegation practice to work, we need to learn to loosen the reigns and only get involved when we need to… when there’s a problem.
Micro managing insults highly trained and experienced workers, and restricts their growth.
Understand that the reason you are delegating is that you believe the person has the skills and experience to succeed in this task.
Give them the space and time they require, ensuring they understand you are always available should they need a sounding board.
When things appear to be heading in the wrong direction, get involved and attempt to steer things back on track.
4. Provide sufficient guidance
Delegating isn’t just about telling an employee to get something done, we must provide guidance relating how you expect things to be done.
I’m not saying that you provide a must follow list of actions to follow, but you should be discussing how you see the task going, how you would carry out the task, and listening to the employee for how they intend to carry out the task.
This way you are providing sufficient guidance, and the employee is left with a good understanding of how to complete the task.
5. You have final responsibility
This is an important one.
Delegation isn’t about blaming others when your delegation task doesn’t work out.
As the manager, ultimate responsibility belongs to you.
Yes you need to provide you employee with feedback relating to what needs to be improved upon, but you must always take ultimate responsibility for any failure.
You set up the delegation task, provide expectations, monitor progress, correct problems (with the team), and are responsible for the final result.
Delegation is not a finger pointing or deflecting exercise.
When delegation is used properly and effectively, beneficial outcomes arise for the firm, the manager and the workforce as a whole.
Delegation results in a more innovative firm that better seizes market opportunities and more quickly turns them into rising profits.
Let me know below if there are any other points you would like to add on delegation…