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Quick Tips

Brainstorm all the benefits you'd get from delegating more of your work.
  • List the new opportunities and challenges you could take on if you had the time.
  • Think through how individuals could build their skills, knowledge, flexibility, job satisfaction, productivity, and value to the organization.
  • Consider how your team or organization could become more competitive and respond more quickly and effectively to customers, suppliers, or internal partners.
  • Ask your peers what types of tasks and assignments they typically delegate, and then ask them to share any lessons learned and benefits realized.
  • Consider the impact that delegating a certain assignment will have on the rest of the team. Will some people be upset that they weren't chosen? Will the new task/responsibility hinder the team member's progress in other areas? Will it affect the team's results?
Think about why you might be hesitant to delegate.
  • Do you worry about losing credibility, giving up control, or becoming expendable?
  • Do you lack confidence in other people's abilities?
  • Does it seem as if the time and effort involved in delegating outweigh the benefits?
  • Do the potential risks of delegating a particular task outweigh the benefits?
  • Does no one on your team have the required skills and knowledge?
Choose the right people the first time.
  • Keep a list of team members' talents and match people to tasks that require their unique skills.
  • Check people's availability and workload; don't overload experienced team members or underutilize less-experienced ones.
  • Select people who are motivated to take on the task/responsibility.
  • Assign tasks that will meet people's specific development needs; arrange for training, if needed.
Provide support as people take on the task.
  • Follow through on commitments of resources and support made in the discussion.
  • If people struggle, work with them to identify ways of providing support so they can keep ownership of the task/responsibility.
  • Help people obtain the assistance they need.
  • Identify opportunities to reinforce success.
  • Provide feedback to reinforce effective performance and to redirect less-effective performance.
Reinforce people's responsibility for taking action.
  • Agree on the level of monitoring that works for them.
  • Periodically review progress so you can reinforce effective performance and help people make adjustments before larger problems arise.
  • Encourage people to monitor their own progress.
  • Seek ideas on how people can measure their own success.
Vary your support and people's level of authority as the delegation progresses.
  • Provide more support and coaching at first; agree on periodic reevaluation of support needed.
  • Reduce the level of support as people gain confidence.
  • Don't increase your support to the point where you're taking away responsibility.
  • Turn over less authority at first; give more as people show they're ready for it.
 


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Pitfalls

Retaining a task/responsibility you've delegated.
If you delegate a task yet continue to do it yourself, you might:
  • Undermine the person's or group's commitment to the delegation.
  • Damage the trust you've built with other people.
  • Jeopardize the success of the delegation.
Abdicating responsibility.
If you take yourself out of the picture entirely, people will:
  • Think you're simply dumping your problems on them.
  • Not put in the effort needed to succeed.
  • Feel you've abandoned them.
Keeping the decision-making authority, yet making someone else accountable for the results.
When people are held accountable for the results, but you make all the major decisions, they:
  • Question your motives.
  • Lose their commitment.
  • Resist taking on new assignments from you in the future.
Asking people to do the work without giving them credit.
When you don't recognize people for the work they're doing, you:
  • Lose their trust in your ability to lead.
  • Take credit for something you didn't do.
  • Discourage them from taking on more delegations.
Keeping important and familiar work for yourself.
If you continue to keep work that could—and should—be delegated, you might:
  • Demotivate people who otherwise would be enthused by a new opportunity.
  • Have difficulty mobilizing resources to achieve better results.
  • Stifle personal growth (yours and others') and make people feel mistrusted, bored, and unimportant.
  • Leave people unprepared to take on new challenges or to respond quickly and effectively to changing market demands.
Believing that only you can do the job.
If you often think that you are the best person for the job, it could send the message that you:
  • Are interested only in your own reputation and career.
  • Doubt people's ability to handle anything beyond the routine task or assignment.
  • Don't trust people to do things right.
  • Are unconcerned about team members' growth.
Assuming that people aren't interested in a new task.
If you assume people wouldn't show interest or would resist taking on a task/responsibility, you might miss opportunities to:
  • Make their work more challenging and interesting.
  • Utilize highly qualified people who would welcome a chance to contribute their expertise.
Feeling that team members already are overloaded with work.
If you don't delegate new work to people because you assume they are too busy, you might miss opportunities to:
  • Develop people who need to gain additional skills or knowledge.
  • Increase your team's contributions to the business.
  • Build team bench strength.
 


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Articles and Books

Articles

Llorens, J. (2010, October). "Up from the Middle." T & D, 18.

The article focuses on how middle management can bring employee engagement back into an organization. Four ideas are noted that make middle management's role more exciting such as giving managers the authority and leadership skills they need to take action and manage effectively. Research titled "Creating a New Deal for Middle Managers: Empowering a Neglected but Critical Group" is mentioned.

Martin, R. (2010, July/August). "Execution Trap." Harvard Business Review, 64–71.

The realization of a strategy depends on countless employees. So it's no surprise that when a strategy fails, the reason cited is usually poor execution. A metaphor for successful strategy is a white-water river, in which choices cascade from its source in the mountains (the corporation) to its mouth (the rest of the organization). Executives at the top make the broader choices involving long-term investments while empowering employees toward the bottom to make more concrete, day-to-day decisions that directly influence customer service and satisfaction. When downstream choices are valued and feedback is encouraged, employees send information upward, improving the knowledge base of decision makers higher up and helping everyone in the organization make better choices.

Neal, B. (2010, September). "Heroes and Sidekicks: Ensuring Proper Followership." T & D, 76–77.

The article focuses on the need for proper support to business leadership. It comments on the tendency for leadership initiatives to falter when they lack proper support and follow-up. It examines the literary concept of heroes and sidekicks and takes a closer look at the hero-sidekick team of Batman and Robin to determine the characteristics of effective sidekicks. It mentions the need for effective leaders to possess delegation skills and for support staff to be trained in how to receive delegation and work with leaders. It talks about the need for followers to know how to work effectively as a strong team member.

Stanley, T. (2012, April). “Delegating for Success.” Supervision, 7–10.

The article discusses the importance of delegating tasks within an organization and presents advice on doing so. The author describes the eight steps of effective delegating, ranging from selecting the task to delegate from praising the employee upon completion. He also emphasizes the importance of good communication with employees as a prerequisite for sound delegation.

Womack, J. (2010, November/December). "Productivity Coach’s Corner." Training, 6.

The article presents information on how to develop leadership skills in the workplace by delegating responsibilities to others. The author discusses the importance of establishing timelines, managing work tasks, and being clear in communications.

Books

Bacon, T. (2012). Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead. New York: AMACOM.

Based on 20 years of research, Elements of Influence shows readers how to: understand why people allow themselves to be influenced and why they resist; choose the right approach for each situation; be influential when they have no formal authority; and, succeed in every kind of organization even in other countries. Filled with exercises and practical applications, this book shows how anyone can increase his or her influence to achieve greater success.

Bednarz, T. (2012). Roles & Responsibilities of Delegation: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series. Stevens Point, WI: Majorium Business Press.

Roles & Responsibilities of Delegation will illustrate the proven strategies and techniques to challenge your employees, improve overall effectiveness and enhance your effectiveness through delegation. It will instruct you in step-by-step manner, the successful delegation practices you need to apply to achieve your goals and obtain positive results and outcomes.

Luecke, R., & McIntosh, P. (2009). The Busy Manager's Guide to Delegation (Worksmart Series). New York: AMACOM.

Filled with quick tips, exercises, self-assessments, and practical worksheets, this book presents an easy-to-master, five-step process for effective delegation. The book shows readers how to set the stage for excellent results, what to do if things go wrong, and how to ensure that all their people benefit from the experience.

Pratt, B. (2008). Own the Forest, Delegate the Trees. Ponte Vedra Beach, FL: Hamilton & Cole Publishers Inc.

Gives you the project leadership tools and techniques to reduce stress and increase results. It's written by a seasoned peer who spent decades in the trenches of major corporations studying and experimenting with what works and what doesn't work. The author understands the needs and perspectives of both project managers and executives because she’s served in both roles.

Tittmer, R. (2007). 151 Quick Ideas for Delegating and Decision Making. Pompton Plains, NJ: Career Press.

New leaders and experienced leaders alike will find this book can help them be more effective at managing people and tasks. Each real world idea contained within has been tried and tested and are explained in an easy to understand format.

 


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