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Delegating for Managers

Delegating requires managers to transfer responsibility to someone else (a co-worker or staff person) to do tasks, supervise projects and report results.  In my experience, learning to delegate is the hardest skill for managers to learn because it really is a negotiation hovering between art and science. Delegating challenges every business skill you can think of.  Successful delegation will tap communication skills as well as higher level tactical and strategic skills required for problem solving and appropriate decision-making.

Why We Delegate

Obviously, we delegate because the amount of work we have to do requires additional resources.  We also delegate specific tasks or projects to others because they have a particular expertise or an existing client relationship that will provide positive results.  We delegate as a way of creating real-time learning experiences to meet our responsibility for the professional development for staff or team members.  We delegate to add depth of experience and expertise throughout the enterprise.

Why Some of Us Don’t Delegate

Sometimes we don’t delegate because we’re afraid it will look like we’re not doing anything when others are performing the visible tasks.  This is especially true where there are tangible products or outcomes at the end of a task or project.  If you have been promoted to managing from “doing” observable things, changing is often a troublesome transformation.

For you to be successful in your practice of delegation it is critical to add upper management to your focus and promote the group/departmental efforts. Likewise it is important that upper management clearly evaluates you for the overall effectiveness of the group or department, not individual tasks.

What Delegating Is Not

It is important to remember that delegating is not a “dump-and-run” maneuver to unload work or problems on someone else.  Since you are responsible for the productiveness and effectiveness of a group of people, your responsibility doesn’t end.

Drawbacks of Delegating

One critical drawback for you as you delegate is that there is a tendency for you to become increasingly isolated from your staff.  In this instance, there is an incorrect assumption that there is only one relationship with the client (internal or external) and that relationship is only at the task level.  The change for the manager is to develop a different type of relationship with the client where you can get relevant feedback that will keep the group always moving forward and taking action.  You begin adding strategic skills to the tactical skills.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

How did you learn your delegation strategies? What were your biggest “light bulb” moments as you delegated tasks or responsibilities?

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