Q. Hi, I’m a manager at a major consulting firm. I often find myself juggling too many tasks, but at the same time I don’t know how to delegate work effectively. I’m afraid that I might delegate the wrong thing to the wrong person, and the results will show poorly on my part. I wanted more knowledge on this topic. Can you help me delegate effectively? Thanks! Amal. F.
A. As a manager, you’re often faced with the complex issue of how, when, and to whom you should delegate work. Keep in mind that there is a stark difference between “delegating” and “directing”. Through delegating, you give your subordinates the responsibility to finish the task however they wish, as long as they meet pre-defined standards. Directing, on the other hand, is giving someone a task, telling them exactly how to do it, and constantly poking your nose into the minor details of how they accomplish it.
If managers delegate properly, employees will feel appreciated, and be more productive and efficient. So how is this possible? Here is a list of delegation do’s and don’ts that can guide you:
The Do’s:DO empower your employees: Give your employees a task which requires a good deal of responsibility and accountability. Let them figure out their own methods to achieve the desired outcomes. In fact, 7 in 10 professionals feel that their managers value their skills and contributions, according to the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll, April 2014. This will make them feel valued and trusted.
DO pick the right people: Before delegating a task, assess the employees who will be able to do it. This will depend on two factors: skill and capacity. If the employee you choose doesn’t have the necessary skills, make sure to train them. If they don’t have the capacity or time to do the work, then consider giving the task to someone else.
DO set pre-defined standards: Giving responsibility is great, and in order to ensure that the desired outcomes are achieved, set pre-defined standards. Clearly explain what you’re looking for at the end of the assigned task, and provide a guideline of how their work will be evaluated. This way, both parties can avoid potential disappointments in the future. You should also check on their progress from time-to-time without being too intrusive, just to make sure they are on the right track.
Do ensure the deliverables and responsibilities are clear: For example, if the assigned task is to submit a report then your responsibility would be to make sure the report is submitted in a timely and accurate manner. You should delegate the collection of information while still being accountable for the integrity.
DO appreciate and evaluate fairly: Following from the previous point, make sure you evaluate your
employee’s work based on your pre-defined standards. 80% of professionals say that their companies have a fair evaluation system to measure performance, according to the Bayt.com ‘Employee Engagement in the MENA’ poll. Don’t put in any unrealistic expectations in the last minute. Give your employees fair feedback if their work didn’t meet your standards, and reward them if they did well. Never forget to say “Thank you” – no matter what.
The Don’ts:DON’T micromanage: Remember, you’re delegating, not directing. You can’t be involved in all aspects of the task, as you have given your employees the responsibility and power to make decisions. Rather, act as a resource or guide, when they need help.
DON’T keep all the work to yourself: A common problem managers face is an attachment to their work which is the main reason why they don’t delegate. Even if you’re the best person to do the job, it’s best to give away some of your work. This lessens the load and stress on your shoulders, and also teaches your employees how to complete new tasks. Try being a teacher to your employees.
DON’T delegate due to a lack of time: A lot of times, making sure the person has the potential and ability to perform a task is side-stepped for the time element. Don’t delegate a task to someone just because they have more free time than you. You should always balance that out and be ready to step in when needed.
DON’T criticize harshly: It’s advisable to avoid unconstructive criticism. Rather, while giving feedback to your employee, try to be encouraging and involving. You can tell them “I think putting this in would be a good idea, what do you think?” This way, the employee will improve and learn, without feeling belittled.
Source: Bayt Blog