Friday, 27 April 2012

Delegation and Career Success Part 2

Developing Willing Employees

Effective management requires an ongoing process selecting people that can be trained to take on more stretching tasks. If you are familiar with Blanchard’s Situational Leadership II the method by which you do this will become obvious. By first giving small amounts of authority to complete basic tasks and then by monitoring their progress and making corrections where necessary, is a great way to start.

It is also important to look your group's workload as a whole. The delegation of tasks will affect the whole group and it is wise to find out how work is now allocated and how much time is available for each member to do new, developmental tasks. It's a good idea to involve your entire group in the process. All of us are somewhat motivated by a sense of equity and an equitable distribution of both workload and learning opportunities is essential.

For delegation to meet both work and development goals managers need to:
Delegate assignments that a team member needs to strengthen areas of weakness.
Delegate a variety of activities broaden and add interest to the recipient’s job.
Delegate activities that will, if carried out effectively, lead to advancement of the individual/s being delegated to.

Remember you may need to delegate in a chain effect. What I mean here is A takes over say two or three of your tasks and B takes over two or three of A’s task’s. You will need to keep a watchful eye on both A and B.

The Four Stages of Delegating

The Blanchard Situational Leadership (or Hershey & Blanchard) model is I believe the best approach. Although the model is used as a “Leadership Model” it still provides a great basis for assessing “what and how much” to delegate to employees. The categories they use are often misconstrued as generalisations about an individuals overall competence. It must be remembered that the categories need to be task specific. This means that employees can be at development level 1 (D1) in one task and perhaps D4 in another. I have changed the level descriptions below from the original model to better reflect the delegation discussion.

D1:  Staff member is both unwilling and unable to take responsibility for performing a task.
D2:  Staff member is unable however they are willing to do a job task.  
D3:  Staff member is able however unwilling to perform a task.
D4:  Staff member is willing and fully competent to do what is asked of them.

More on delegation and management at and if no one is delegating and developing you perhaps it's time to dust of your resume.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Delegation and Career Success Part 1

What is exactly is delegation?

Not a silly question, many think they know and don’t. Delegation of a task or activity to someone in our team or department, even though it is a central function of management, is often a greatly misunderstood process. Recently I read a paper by a gentleman with a PhD who stated that delegation was basically the act of “sharing the responsibility for a project’s outcomes”. This is a typical, however incorrect, assumption about delegation.

In a course I facilitated in the past the definition we used was, “delegation is the granting of all or part of your authority to decide or act where you the delegator always retains responsibility for the outcomes”. This delegation definition exposes one of the problems managers have with delegation, as obviously many managers are happy to pass on responsibility, however most them/us want to retain or protect our authority.

The big issue here for many managers I have trained is the issue of having, or developing, the trust in the person to whom they are delegating.

The reasons for delegating are obvious: efficiency, effectiveness, staff training and preparation for succession. The ultimate benefit of delegating is that the delegator, through developing efficient and effective staff will eventually release themselves from their current position so they can move to higher positions. If advancement is a goal it follows that effective delegation is probably the most important competence a manager can develop.

Practical aspects of delegation

Bearing in mind what I have said above the first issue to address is that a manager must be prepared to let go of the desire to undertake the tasks or the implement the actual project him/herself. Secondly, the staff member must be prepared to accept the delegated tasks. Issues of ‘I’m the best at this job’ from the manager’s perspective and ‘why should I do extra’ from the staff member need to be addressed at the outset.

Delegation is not simply asking somebody to perform an activity to help the delegator get his or her work done or finish a project. True and effective delegation requires that the manager explain the purpose of the delegation and conduct the necessary skills assessment or training to ensure the receiver can perform the tasks adequately. The key as I said is to hand over the necessary authority to get what is required done to a fully competent staff member.

The keys to successful delegation are: planning and prioritizing tasks, effective time management, setting of proper agreed deadlines, follow-up at half and three quarter time, giving up favourite tasks particularly after you have been promoted and ensuring the appropriate skills are present in the person being delegated to.