Leadership Mistakes

The Delegation of Authority

Sean McPhcat asked:

As a manager, you’re in a unique position. Delegation of authority is often the most difficult concept for most new managers to grasp. I know because I had trouble with the idea myself. I was used to completing all of my tasks on my own and was overly cautious and unsure about passing work to my subordinates.

Part of the problem was that I had a rough time changing my mindset. My coworkers and peers were suddenly lower on the corporate totem pole than I was. I felt odd suddenly passing off work to those I had recently been working with as equals.

Managers and supervisors are not supposed to take on an overabundant amount of work. It is your job, officially, to practice the delegation of authority. You are responsible for making sure that your team members are highly trained so that you do not have to worry about the quality of the work they will return to you.

This doesn’t mean your team members won’t make mistakes. They will – as you have in the past and will inevitably do again in the future. On the bright side, they’ll learn from their mistakes and will not remain dependent on you for constant guidance and supervision.

I firmly believe that every management training program should include a focus on the delegation of authority. In the process of delegation, we learn how to reevaluate our own levels of accountability while sharing our responsibilities with others.

Delegation doesn’t mean that you assign a task to a subordinate and then wash your hands of it. You must carefully prepare the project to be assigned; plan exactly how you want it done; clearly communicate the directions and goals to your team members; check to make sure the project is completed correctly; and let your team know how much you appreciate their work.

That last part – appreciation – is essential. Your team needs to know how much you appreciate each and every task they accomplish on your behalf. Your thanks can range from simple kind words to small treats or even an extra bonus.

Evaluate the current state of your desk and determine which projects you’re holding on to because you’re afraid to give them to someone else. It’s time to let go of your insecurities – choose a team member and practice delegating your authority.


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