THE inability to delegate is one of the most common problems of managers. Management and leadership are all about getting results by organising and supervising a workforce.
Poor delegation or no delegation is inefficient and expensive. And the worst thing about not delegating is that managers are losing wonderful training opportunities for their workers.
Managers have many reasons for not delegating:
They feel at ease doing routine tasks rather than supervising the work of others;
They are not familiar with the skills of their workers and are therefore unsure of other people's ability to take more responsibility;
They hate correcting other people's work; and
They know they can do some things better than others.
Delegating is hard work, but it is work that is needed to help an organisation grow and improve. You can tell people what to do, you can show people what to do, but by far the best way to teach people is to simply let them do the work themselves. Delegation provides that training avenue.
There are basically two good reasons to delegate:
It gets the job done more efficiently, and
It provides training and new experiences for members of work teams.
Writer Andrew E. Schwarts says: "Too many managers waste both time and energy performing tasks an employee could perform just as well, thereby lowering productivity while raising operating costs.
"The answer to the problem is easy - delegation. However, many managers still limit their own effectiveness, create imbalances in the organisation, waste their department's time and energies, and fail to develop their subordinates by either ignoring or mismanaging the techniques of delegation."
The ability to delegate tasks and control productivity simultaneously is an essential skill for managers. It is like juggling three or four balls in the air, while ordering fast food out your car window and talking on a cell phone at the same time.
There are many pitfalls that can undermine your efforts to delegate, but there are also some basic steps to help managers ease their workload through delegation while maintaining control.
There are six functions of an effective delegation and control system:
1. Planning and goal-setting
If everyone is involved in the planning and goal-setting of a project, it is more likely that everyone will buy into the work involved to bring the project to fruition - which makes delegation easier.
2. Responsibility and authority
Before delegating, everyone needs to know which way the responsibility flows. Who reports to whom? That question must be answered for effective delegation.
James G. Patterson, a business writer and faculty member of the University of Phoenix, advises: "Be prepared to supervise. All projects require regular monitoring - especially in the beginning stages. So do all employees.
"But some projects require more scrutiny than others, and some employees demand more direction. Here, too, it's a matter of matching the task with the person."
"Can you do this?" Give and take is part of the delegation process.
4. Management by exception
Only the unusual problem or case is brought to the top.
5. Consultation and coaching
Think of consultation as the bedside manner of a physician taking the pulse of a family member. The manager needs to know how the patient is doing, and must make suggestions to improve the overall health of the individual.
6. Review and control
This is like consultation and coaching, but from a step back. Reviewing project aspects and controlling the work and schedule insures continued progress toward worthwhile goals.
In reviewing the project, the results should be addressed, and the methods that were involved should be not criticised very much, if at all.
Delegation can result in some mistakes being made, but mistakes can also be learning opportunities. Praise should be given for jobs well done. Each time delegation happens, there is a chance that everyone will improve his standing in the organisation.