How, When and Why to Delegate

Delegation involves transferring to others the right and duty to perform certain tasks to certain standards. It is successful when subordinates have the personal qualities and competence to carry out the tasks. Decisions should be taken as close as possible to the point where they will be carried out.

Delegation is the transference to others of the authority and responsibility for carrying out certain tasks. Successful delegation implies that those to whom the tasks are delegated:

  • Know what it is what they have to do
  • Want to achieve it
  • Have the means to achieve it
  • Have the ability to achieve it

What Is Authority?

In any organization, there is a degree of formal authority which goes with the job. A subordinate expects their boss to have a wider knowledge, wield a greater influence and carry more weight than they do themselves. At the same time, there is an added dimension to authority which is invested in the person themselves, which we call ‘leadership’.

The effectiveness of authority in a business situation depends, therefore, on the extent to which it is accepted by the people over whom it is being exercised.

What Is Responsibility?

Literally, it means answerable or accountable (to another for something). A subordinate to whom a task is delegated is, therefore, accountable to their boss for the successful performance of that task. The overall objectives of the organization cannot be delegated. They must be split up and new responsibilities or obligations created at every level in the organisation.

Why Delegate At All?

In a very small organization, the person who created the firm will have staff to help them carry out some of the tasks. Frequently, they tend to keep decisions to themselves. As the company grows, this method of delegation is likely to be less and less effective. Every decision, even in the smallest matters, has to go right up the line.

What Should A Manager Delegate?

Those things that a subordinate can do:

  • Better than themselves – special skills should be used
  • More cheaply in terms of time and wages cost
  • As part of their training
  • As a real part of their job

What Should A Manager Not Delegate?

The things that only they can do:

  • Overall policy and planning
  • Selection, recruitment, training of immediate subordinates
  • Promotion and appraisal of immediate subordinates

The Step By Step Technique to Success

Analyze the task(s):

  • Is it delegateable?
  • Is it worth delegating?
  • How does this task need to be performed to be successful?
  • What time factors are involved?

Analyze the person – do they have the correct:

  • Ability now?
  • With training?
  • Attitude?

Workload (Do they have the time?):

  • Decide on the monitoring system
  • Communicate totally – sell the task
  • Train (If necessary)
  • Start/Action
  • Monitor and evaluate
  • Be prepared to act and support
  • Thank and praise the performer

That, in essence, is the essential art of delegation!