If you were to ask a group of senior managers and executives whether they delegated, we would hope that most would answer in the affirmative. Should we then ask if such delegation was both effective and successful, then their response might be more mixed?
Often, you might hear comments about the failings of those delegated to, these showing a genuine disappointment about such lack of success. Yet, there is one truth that must be accepted, if delegation is to be truly effective. It’s this: any failures in delegation are the responsibility of the person who delegates. They make the choices, both in terms of individuals and tasks! Here are three keys to help delegation be effective…
Often, what is euphemistically termed ‘delegation’ is actually a senior person simply passing on a task they do not wish to do to a more junior individual; ‘ridding themselves of that turbulent priest’ if you like. The recipient of such duties will swiftly recognise this action. Delegation should be about stretching and enhancing the abilities of others, not making an executive’s life easier.
There can be a tendency to delegate most tasks to a single individual, perhaps identified as a star in the making. This is unfair to others who are denied the chance to become more experienced or develop new skills. Equally, one person can feel overloaded, even put-upon; what is intended as a positive exercise in advancement can be seen as being given many extra burdens to carry.
A truth to be accepted, however difficult: a task is not delegated to another to then only be undertaken exactly as it would have been by the person delegating. This is simply copying. The desired results might well be delivered using different means, skills or tactics. Delegators must be bold enough to accept that better ways of reaching the objectives might even be identified!
Equally, once delegated a task, the individual must be allowed to set to work on it without feeling eyes over their shoulders at every step. Yes, there should be processes for assessing progress during more complicated tasks. Yes, the person undertaking the task should be encouraged to consult with those setting it whenever they feel such a need. But too many managers and leaders can tend to immediately step in, take over, assert control, issue orders, whenever even minor problems arise, or small delays occur. What was set as a motivating experience quickly turns into exactly the opposite?
Delegation is a key executive skill. If it’s one you wish to demonstrate, among many others, in a role that reaches your expectations, please take time to talk to our team here at The Anthony Gregg Partnership.