Mastering Effective Delegation

Delegation is both a science and an art that managers must learn to master. It is the most potent tool in the manager’s arsenal; this is where most entrepreneurs fail in growing their business. Delegation yields quantum leaps in productivity and efficiency if properly done but brings chaos if the manager does not know how.
There are so many things to do and time is so limited, that the realization of a company’s vision and mission can in no way be achieved without resorting to delegation. Not only does a manager delegate to be relieved of workload, but this also allows employees to grow professionally.
However, delegation is not a simple skill. It is not just a matter of instructing someone what to do. Here are some simple steps I apply to delegate effectively:
1. Know what tasks should be delegated. Identify which activities may be assigned to others. One way to select which task to turn over is to see what consumes the most time. Typically these are the routine, time consuming chores, that have clear cut procedures or those jobs that will result in little damage in case of blunders. Remember that there are many things that you cannot or must not delegate.
2. Find the most suitable person for the task. She/he must have the capacity and reliability to perform the activities you delegated. Consider office politics too—giving a plum task to a junior employee may prompt disgruntlement among more senior personnel. In case you must choose a neophyte, give the proper support to overcome possible resistance.
3. Delegate authority, as well as accountability. Make sure that you allow the person to work with minimal need to get back to you, and make the person accountable. To do this you need to inform the people he going to work with that he is now authorized to do the job you have delegated. There are even times that a special power of attorney is needed to lend the needed authority. Ultimately, you must learn to let go, and trust in the person.
4. Explain the task. Explain it in detail and probe or ask questions to assess comprehension. Make the subordinate repeat instructions to know if everything was made clear. Note the tools, knowledge, and access to information necessary for completion. Being the boss, there are certain things you take for granted that is not possible or difficult for your staff to do. Misunderstandings must be resolved from the very start. Define the person’s duties and make sure it is understood. To minimize errors, give written instructions when suitable.
5. Agree on a deadline, the number of workers needed, and the budget. Make the deadline clear and allocate the necessary resources and manpower to meet the objective. Remember, too, that your subordinate has other tasks and that priorities must be agreed upon.
6. Follow-up. This is the critical stage. Some managers fail to monitor the development of the project. Projects should be broken up into segments with milestones; these are established to know if the pace of the work is on schedule. You should check the progress of the assignment, to determine if there is a need for support or to extend the deadline. This will avoid nasty surprises wherein a trouble is discovered too late and there is no more time for a remedy. If problems occur, review the agreement; and if needed, retrain. Rectify mistakes, if there are any.
7. Evaluate. Check if the delegated tasks were properly executed. If the job was done well, be generous with praise. Give credits or even rewards when due! You may give a bonus, salary raise, or if the resources are tight, you may give free movie passes or gasoline coupons instead as a sign of appreciation.
8. Identify other tasks that need to be delegated. After successfully delegating a task you will gain more confidence to use your new-found skill. Delegate more so that you can focus on where you have more impact like managing, planning, and strategizing.  
Most of us believe in the adage saying, “If you want something to be done right, do it yourself.” People often feel guilty if they do not do it themselves. However, I believe, that the wiser managers accomplish more by following the words said by my son, “Pag kaya ng iba, ipagawa mo sa kanila.” (“If others can do it, let them do it.”) I believe, he will soon be a good manager!
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
You might also like:
Why Do Bosses Play Favorites? »
Ten Ways to Inspire and Motivate Your Employees »
Smart Delegation: What Managers Should Not Delegate »
Supervisors Must Learn to Supervise »
The Four Things Every Manager Wants to Hear from Employees »
The Best Way to Motivate People »