Delegation is an important part of managing a busy team. everywoman in Travel explains how to do so effectively.
Delegation is the deliberate decision of a leader to give a team member the responsibility for a task that normally a leader would carry out themselves.
Crucially, it is not about handing over tasks that you dislike or that bore you, and it is not about offloading accountability.
In the context of delegation, we must distinguish between responsibility, authority and accountability:
• Responsibility puts the onus on the team member to carry out the task.
• Authority is the level of decision-making or resource handed down to carry out the task.
• Accountability is being held to account, the ultimate responsibility, for achieving the task.
Responsibility and authority can be delegated but accountability cannot. The buck stops with the delegator.
Delegation starts with planning. You can follow the below process to delegate successfully.
Analyse its component parts by breaking it down into specific and measurable elements.
There can be many steps to every task, and someone who does the task regularly can sometimes forget those steps.
It is important that you lay out the task as a series of steps so that none of them get missed. When considering whether to delegate a task, it can be useful to decide if it is a “glass ball” or a “rubber ball”: if the task was dropped, would it bounce back to you or would it smash?
They’ll need to have the right skills, knowledge and experience. Given that you will always retain ultimate accountability, you also need to consider the consequences if something should go wrong or the team member fails to carry out the task effectively.
Ideally, you will not simply take back the task. If problems arise, work with your team member and empower them to solve the problem themselves.
Ensure you give yourself enough time between the task deadline and any real deadline in order to build in problem-solving coaching.
Plan your communication, ie explain what you want done; why; who has what level of authority for the task; and when it needs to be delivered.
When delegating, it is important to decide how much responsibility and authority you are going to hand over.
It is important to have clear controls so everyone involved knows what they can and cannot commit to and when they need to involve you.
Also establish the deadline and interim review dates.
Have them repeat back what steps they will take.
A key to the art of delegation is to delegate non-critical tasks so your team can feel empowered with authority and responsibility to carry them out, but are also given a safe space to fail.
If the person you have delegated to makes a mistake, they’ll be able to learn from it and move forward without a detrimental impact.
Take a moment today to think about tasks you are carrying out on autopilot that could be delegated to a team member.
It may feel like there is a lot to take into consideration when delegating, but just think how much time it will free up when they are autonomously looking after a task for you, as well as the contribution you are making to your team member’s development.