Perhaps one of the most underrated management skills is delegating. The ability to succinctly and clearly delegate work will make you far more effective in the workplace.

People mistake delegation for simply telling people what to do. Delegation, by its definition, implies some level of authority or representation- so when you are delegating you are empowering and allowing that person to do the job. In summary you are giving the person the authority to complete the task or job.

Delegating is delegating. It is easy to think that simply asking or directing people to do things is delegating, that isn’t delegating, that is more like dumping. Don’t kid yourself with the illusion that you are some laid back highly delegating manager simply because you ask people to do things all the time. Your people will think otherwise. You need to distinguish between delegating and dumping. As a manager it is perfectly normal to direct your team to complete tasks but if you want your team to develop and thrive, you also need to be delegating them meaningful and challenging tasks.

You delegate to reduce your operational workload so you can focus on the more strategic issues. You might also delegate because a team member has more skills than you or it might be a great development opportunity for that team member.

One of the challenges of delegating is letting go of control and allowing the team member to do the task. Effective delegation relies on trust – you need to demonstrate that you trust the team member to complete the task while the team member needs to trust that you will let them complete the task. Whatever you do, don’t micromanage as this will shatter any trust and will discourage accountability. Give people the time and space away from you to get the job done. Micromanagement tends to be a result of a lack of trust regarding capability and or capacity.

Delegation is not always down the line. There are times when you need to delegate to a colleague or even delegate to your own manager. Whatever the situation, the key to delegation is that the RESPONSIBILITY for the overall task stays with the delegator.

Key Points

  • Set clear and agreed time frames for any delegated task
  • Prioritise the delegated tasks
  • Give people the authority to do the task
  • Give people the space and time away from you to do the task
  • Follow up on delegated tasks
  • Empower staff to make decisions
  • Foster accountability through delegation