Delegating related articles


27.06.2008 ob 09:15

We talk of delegating when we assign tasks to co-workers. Assigning tasks to colleagues sounds simple, but the skill of "delegating" is still an especially difficult task for the one doing the delegating. In addition to rights and obligations, delegation also brings responsibility. And any responsible work requires certain competences, skills, preparation and consistent execution.

What then is delegating? It is:

  • An act of assigning a certain task, duty or right to someone else, who performs it for you. This means that persons to whom the task was delegated, can act with a certain level of independence and simultaneously accept part of the responsibility together with you for the implementation of certain tasks.
  • An efficient manager is one who is aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his/her colleagues.
  • An efficient manager treats employees as team members where each person plays an important role in achieving the objectives of the organisation.

Why is the skill of delegating important for a manager?

  • It frees up the time necessary to focus on other important tasks and enhances adaptability.
  • It offers a manager the option of gaining confidence in the effectiveness of the employees and gaining trust of the employees.
  • Even though managers are themselves responsible for the execution of tasks, it is delegating that enables them to improve their leadership skills.
  • Successful delegation can improve communication between managers and employees.
  • Successful delegation enables balancing of the work load and setting up an equilibrium between work obligations and private life.
  • Delegating encourages team work and increases work productivity.
  • Managers who direct people and tasks are unable to do everything by themselves.
  • The least favourable delegation scenario is reflected in reverse delegation where the manager and employee switch roles.
  • Delegating ensures that tasks can be assigned to experts and thus completed more quickly.
  • Delegating certain tasks to employees enables managers to perform their work.
  • A subordinate cannot delegate responsibilities that are in the exclusive domain of the manager.

What can be delegated? We can delegate the following:

  • Tasks that are not those of management and leadership.
  • Tasks allowing the transfer of a part of responsibilities.
  • Tasks that enhance the competence of employees and provide them with new challenges in their work.
  • Tasks for which individuals are suitably trained.

What cannot be delegated? We cannot delegate the following:

  • Tasks for which employees are not suitably trained. Such delegation is termed: penalising.
  • Tasks that cause a great burden. Such delegation is termed: underestimating employees.
  • Tasks that require constant supplementation of instructions for execution, i.e. marionette delegation.
  • Tasks should not be delegated to one and the same person all the time.
  • Tasks connected to human resources issues.

Delegating versus underestimating

Underestimating is:

  • Transferring those tasks to employees that the superior does not wish to perform.
  • Not wanting to assume responsibility and transferring the tasks to others for that reason.

Delegating is:

  • Analyse the task.
  • Coordinate the task.
  • Assign a task.
  • Provide support and ensure feedback.
  • Reward appropriately.

Why do managers experience difficulty in achieving success when delegating?

  • The cognitive dimension: the link between the complexity of the task and the necessary sources, monitoring and rational process and the effect of the environment. The cognitive dimension leads to cognitive factors: evaluate the competence of the employee, evaluate the communication routes, the complexity of the task, control range.
  • The emotional dimension: passion for motivating employees, encouraging and inspiring team members, aptitude for communication that is internally conditioned. The emotional factors on the path to successful delegation are thus: extreme urgency, temporal limitations, competence and knowledge of the manager, deferral of a part of the power and control.
  • The intuitive dimension: reconciliation between the cognitive and emotional, preservation of the entire picture, harmonisation of the interests of the manager and those of the team that is ethically justified.

Phases in the delegation process:

  1. Step 1: Prepare in advance.
  2. Step 2: Clearly define the task to be performed. Be specific. Request the person to whom a tasks has been delegate to repeat the content of the delegated task and thus obtain confirmation that the person understood the content of the task.
  3. Step 3: Precisely define the timeframe (deadline) for the implementation of the entrusted task.
  4. Step 4: Define the level of authority assigned through the delegation of a task:
    • Level 1: the authority to make proposals.
    • Level 2: the authority to inform and initiate.
    • Level 3: the authority to take action.
  5. Step 5: Determine the control points when a meeting with the person to whom a task was delegate is to take place with the aim of verifying effectiveness and the success of task implementation. Meetings are to be called more frequently at the beginning of task implementation and then their frequency should be reduced when it becomes obvious that the person to whom a task has been assigned has mastered it.
  6. Step 6: After the task has been completed, an evaluation should be performed of the executed task as well as an evaluation of what was done well, what could be improved and what we have learned about the task performed.

Why is success in communication directly linked to the success of delegation?

  • Success in communication means that employees to whom tasks have been delegated are capable of understanding the contents of the tasks and of executing it.
  • Good communication directly and importantly affects the success of delegation.
  • Both participants in the delegation process must maintain direct and two-way communication.
  • Open communication routes create a feeling of trust in the person being delegated to, which enables them to more effectively implement the tasks received.
  • Through successful communication between the superior and the recipient of the delegated task, group cohesiveness is created as are the conditions for close cooperation.

Source: Delegiranje (Delegation), Z. Mladenovič