Feedback and Rewards

Are You Really Delegating?

Anil Salick asked:

I often ask participants at the commencement of training our Delegation module: “In your own words, write down the definition of delegation (as a management practice)”. I then listen intently to and rate their definitions on a scale of 1 to 10. I must admit to being teasing and tongue in cheek when I give ratings of 2, 4, 6 or an “I’ll come back to you” when someone gives a great answer.

Here’s the point: most define delegation as assigning work to team members. Delegation is clearly not merely ‘assigning tasks’ that are part of team member’s duties, but rather ‘entrusting’ part of the manager / supervisor’s job to team members. I explain:

Assigning Work

– Part of employee’s job

– No transfer of authority

– No growth

– No risk, no reward


– Part of the manager’s job

– Transfer of authority

– Growth and opportunity to assess potential

– Risk and reward

To what is extent are you delegating in your company? Do you follow the six steps to delegation? Are managers trained sufficiently to develop their teams, empower staff, build capacity, identify talent and focus on their primary job functions?

Here is a summary of the six steps to delegation:

1. Identify the right task to delegate

There are many tasks that we can delegate, and few that we cannot. Managers do not delegate for various reasons, which may range from perceptions of team capacity, ability, availability, willingness, control, system, procedural-related or personal reasons such as ‘don’t know how’ and a lack of confidence.

It is important to clearly define what it is that you want to delegate.

2. Identify the right person to delegate to.

There are 4 types of ‘delegatees’ – those with no experience, some experience, reasonable experience and fully experienced. Criteria such as ability, requirements of the task, experience and willingness (to name a few) are important to establish.

Identifying the right delegate can work to eliminate favouritism or other subtleties which could affect team spirit.

3. Meet with the delegate

This is one of the most important steps – it’s the real face-to-face meeting. In many ways this is like the sales process. You have to put the person at ease, make the feel comfortable, qualify them before giving task, present the task clearly, clarify, commit and arrange follow ups.

4. Monitor the Task

Monitoring the progress of the delegate and task will happen as often as you both feel necessary and depends largely on both the experience & skills of the delegate and the level of the task. In some cases, may wish to take a hands-off approach and rest assured that you have delegated to someone who is fully experienced and trustworthy.

5. Give Feedback along the Way

This is based on your follow-up plans and discussion with the delegate. You may wish to give and receive feedback and updates more or less frequently, again depending on the experience of the delegate and the complexity / importance of the task.

6. Praise and Compliment

If the team member has been successful we should praise and express gratitude. Remember the rule: Praise in public, censure in private. And I also add: We reward results, we recognise efforts.

Delegation is a skill that can transform the productivity, capacity and confidence of the team. Delegation is not just about the right skills, but shifting the beliefs of managers to this worthy management practice.

What are your thoughts on delegation? Any ways to improve the practice? Insights?

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