In my title I describe delegation as an art, which in fact, it is. It can, however, be as frustrating as it can be liberating.
There is a tight rope a leader finds themselves on: delegate too much too soon, and it may seem that you have a laissez-faire approach, delegate too little too infrequently, and you have a controlling approach. For many leaders, delegating is something they know they should do, but don’t do. And when leaders do not delegate, the organisation suffers.
Leaders are regularly challenged with identifying what tasks they can delegate, how to delegate not only a task but also responsibility, or what assignments may be opportunities for learning and advancement for their team members. They may feel that they are abandoning their responsibilities or may fear that the team member might let them down and it would reflect badly on him or her. In addition, these leaders may not have been exposed to leaders who could show them how to delegate successfully and therefore have not learnt the skills needed to do so effectively.
So, for a leader to be able to delegate effectively, they should state their objectives, understand what behaviours are keeping them back from delegating and address these concerns. Leaders who find it hard to delegate should challenge themselves to start delegating bit by bit, and try to stick with it and overcome and challenge assumptions. To begin with, the leader should try small, low risk delegation trials to see if these fears are justifiable or not.
Concurrently, team members should take on these delegated tasks in a paced manner so as to gain confidence and learn how to take on these new responsibilities.Basically, this process should be undertaken in digestible chunks so all the parties involved can build trust in a ‘safe’ manner. Once the attitude towards delegation is changed, then we need to focus on changing behaviours.
So, what is best practice and how can a leader delegate effectively?
Some people are born delegators. They involve everyone effectively and get the job done. In my experience working with a number of business leaders, I have been given the opportunity to learn what works and what does not, and I wish to share these elements with you so that you can try them out.
‘What are we accomplishing?’
‘Why are we doing it?’
‘What would be deemed to be a satisfactory or excellent job?’
Joanne Bondin – Director