I remember having a discussion with a mentor, Jack Harding, about delegation and we came to the conclusion that delegation is a skill that everyone has heard of, but that few of us actually understand. It can either be used as an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates, or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realise their full potential.
The objective of delegation is to get the job done by someone else.
Not just the simple tasks of reading instructions or turning a lever, but also the decision making and changes which depend upon new information. When using delegation, your team have the authority to react to situations without referring back to you.
If you tell the cleaner to empty the bins on Tuesdays and Fridays, the bins will be emptied on Tuesdays and Fridays. If the bins overflow on Wednesday, they will be emptied on Friday. If instead you said to empty the bins as often as necessary, the cleaner would decide how often and adapt to special circumstances. You might suggest a regular schedule (teach the cleaner a little personal time management) but by leaving the decision up to the cleaner you will apply his or her local knowledge to the problem. Consider this, seriously, do you want to be an expert on bin emptying, can you construct an instruction to cover all possible contingences? If not, delegate to someone who can do so.
To enable someone else to do the job for you, you must ensure that they:
• Know what you want
• Have the authority to achieve it
• Know how to do it
You must communicate clearly the nature of the task, understand the extent of their ability, and be aware of the sources of relevant information and knowledge they have access to.
Once you have delegated everything, what do you do then?
You still need to monitor the tasks you have delegated and to continue the development of your team to help them exercise their authority well.
However, there are some managerial functions you should never delegate – these are the personal/personnel ones which are often the functions that add the most to your responsibilities. Specifically, they include motivation, training, team building, organisation, praising, reprimanding, performance reviews and promotion.
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to promote and develop the effectiveness of your team; these are tasks you can expand to fill your available time – delegation is a mechanism for creating that opportunity. Delegation allows you to spend more time working on the business and less time working in it. As a business owner you can actually stand back and analyse your business instead of being at the frontline fighting and directing all the battles.