Importance of delegation in effective team management

by Ashvini Kumar Saxena on September 12, 2011 · 20 comments

in Managing Team effectively

This is the part of series of articles on “How to manage team effectively”

Delegation is an art. Delegation in simple terms is the assignment of activities to your subordinate or juniors. Delegation becomes necessary when organization becomes bigger and entrepreneur cannot complete all the task by themselves.

Delegate

In the early days of her venture, the entrepreneur is often the sole employee of her own venture. She does almost everything that is required to run her enterprise. With passage of time however as business grows , the entrepreneur needs to give up a portion of her tasks to people she hires and employs.

Delegation is definitely beneficial for a team or an organization.

Here are some of the benefits of delegation

  • It helps the manager leader to concentrate on her prime work areas while transferring non essential tasks to her juniors
  • It may save manager’s time by allowing time consuming repetitive tasks to be transferred to subordinates .
  • It may help subordinates build up their competency by doing tasks that were done by their boss previously
  • It may help a manager identify the right skill sets and motivation of the employee. Later this can be used in succession planning
  • It provides new challenges to employees  and keep them motivated

A few cautions while delegating a task

  • The delegated task may not be completed on time because of employee’s inexperience
  • The accountability of delegated task is still with manager
  • The critical functions may still not be delegated to inexperienced employee

It thus leads sometimes to a situation where manager would not like to delegate much to the subordinate.

I know a person who is so good at almost everything he does. However there are far more tasks that he can physically complete. In the end there are a lot of hastily finished tasks.

Why a manager might defer delegation

  • The manager may have a tendency to do all work by himself , since he is good at that .
  • The manager may be fearful of delegating a task because of the risk of it being done badly.

    Not the right way to delegate

  • Manager may be aware that too much oversight may be counterproductive and it might be a headache to manage the employee.

Thus the task of delegation is not easy and it should be done with proper care in mind . Here are some of the things a manager should keep in mind while delegating the task to her subordinates

A manager should either think hard about these tasks or not delegate them at all

  • Is the task critical to the project?

If yes and manager is not confident of delegation, she should do it herself

  • Does this task compromise confidentiality of employee in any way?

One example is handling appraisal information on employees.

  • Does this task need special skills?

If it does, then manager should do it herself or get an employee trained beforehand.

One task that can be readily delegated without much thought

  • Can this task afford to wait for long?

There are some tasks in a project that may be done any time in the course of project. They are not very critical. If the manager feels so, she can allocate such a task to the employee

Finally, how to decide, whom to delegate tasks first

  • An employee who has a track record of taking up new challenges and executing the tasks well
  • A highly motivated new comer who can often do repetitive tasks in a shorter time frame
  • An employee who has past record of adhering to timelines and is punctual in providing clear and correct status reports from time to time

Delegating the task is a difficult business no doubt( that is why I call it an art). With time however a manager may learn what is good and what works. From that point onwards, she may start delegation with finesse and that would be good for team overall.

Now its your turn. I am sure you have delegated tasks yourselves? Would you like to share some tips on delegation with me here ?

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward Villanueva December 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

Delegating is an essential skill for any leader and a team. Nice article.

Edward Villanueva’s latest article :Aventura Real Estate Developments Bring Superior Property Options To People In Miami

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http://www.mattconsidine.com November 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I agree, Delegation is one of the most important management skills. These logical rules and techniques will help you to delegate well.

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Daria Steigman September 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hi Ashvini,

Delegation at heart is about working smarter. Which also includes understanding what you MUST do and what you can let go off (and sometimes accept less than your own standard of “perfection.”) And even start-ups and solo entrepreneurs have to know how (and when) to delegate.

For example, I can figure out how to do my own taxes if I want to put in the hours, but my time is better spent bringing in business (or doing client work) than it is with tax booklets and government forms spread out all over the place.

Another example: In the pre-fax/pre e-mail “old” days, I used to hire a courier service to pick up and deliver documents to my clients. It just never seemed to be a smart use of my time to drive (or Metro) all around town just to make a drop off.

By the way, hope you’re feeling better! I’ve been a tad neglectful on my blog, but it’s more to do with swamped than sick. (And, so far, I haven’t figured out how to delegate writing my own blog posts. Maybe cloning?)

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Ashvini September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Hey Daria,
If you do have a clone, please tell her to write for me :) :D.
It makes sense to delegate because at one stage , we cannot do it all. I hate doing taxes and would like to concentrate on things I like .
Your experience in delegation makes it more important to learn how and when to do it.

Thanks for taking time and commenting :). You are always welcome here .

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Sonia September 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Delegation is necessary when you have many tasks that need to be done, but where I draw the line is how it’s actually handled. My friends have told me their horror stories of the types of people that delegate to “just delegate” due to laziness and other stuff. Being a team player is crucial if you want to succeed in your job, but I think where you run into problems is the way some people tend to “pass the buck”.

I remember working with a bunch of woman at a service company that didn’t know how to carry their own weight and most times the rest of the team had to pick up what they didn’t or wouldn’t complete. Most of it was due to goofing around in the office and rampant nepotism. Some people got more work then others and had to sit back and watch people get paid more money and work less. Eventually this got old and they were eventually reported to upper management by a new employee that decided enough was enough.

Did they get fired? No, and eventually people that actually gave a “dam” about their job left the company including myself. Delegation is apart of my daily work life when I get stuff from the owners I report to. Bottom line, it comes down to the person handing it off and the person that is suppose to complete the task. If one misses the “boat” the chips all come falling down.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Hi Sonia,

I have been in similar situations as yours many time. Nepotism and playing favourites is a real kill joy .
Often the managers are not competent enough to delegate . They do not learn it themselves and instead pass it to a person who knows better than them. He /She goes on to become unofficial manager causing huge problems with the team.
I guess there is a real need of change in the way things are handled in corporate world these days.
Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It helps us to learn and become better at the things we do .

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Janet @ The Natural Networker September 19, 2011 at 8:41 am

Ashvini, aloha. Excellent post on a very important topic. My guess is that most of us do struggle with delegating effectively. Oftentimes it seems like it is easier to do it ourselves rather than take the time teaching someone else. As you said, Ashvini, you cannot move up unless someone else is doing the task.

Also, Ashvini, if you are doing the same things over and over, you are not learning anything new and progressing.

This points you make in this post are compelling because of the clarity with which you make them.

Ashvini, best wishes for a terrific week ahead. Until next time, aloha. Janet

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:20 am

Aloha Janet and Namaste from India :) .

I am really happy to see you on my blog . Also I thank you for providing your thoughts on delegation .
I think a common point appearing here is that we like to complete the tasks ourselves because most of the time we do it better as managers. However the better part is that we are all aware of the disadvantages of doing this.
if you are doing the same things over and over, you are not learning anything new and progressing.. This makes a lot of sense because if we get better at doing something, we need to delegate it to others in order that they also learn from the task. We can then gently guide our juniors to complete their tasks .
Thanks you very much Janet for commenting. I really appreciate and do keep coming back :).
Ashvini

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Ira @ Chicago Home Renovation September 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Hi Ashvini,

This is an interesting topic. Personally, I sometimes hate delegating tasks because I can’t find the right person who can do things the way I do them. But of course, we really need to delegate especially if we work with a group or team. What I usually do is gradually train the person with the task until such time that he can handle it by himself.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hi Ira,

Thank you for your comments :). I really appreciate. I think the common point of doing things by ourselves is really rising up from these discussions.What I usually do is gradually train the person with the task until such time that he can handle it by himself is the perfect solution for letting others grow in the roles. If we are entrepreneurs , we have plenty of other things to do and if we are managers , we need to rise in our careers. Hence the delegation is a must in all scenarios. It all depends on How and when as Manickam has talked about :).

Thank you very much and have a great day:)
Ashvini

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Carolyn September 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Hi Ashvini, Another important topic. Delegation is very hard for some people and too easy for others. Some managers only give out the grunt work while keeping the best work for themselves. Others delegate nearly everything to give themselves a free pass. Delegating effectively is extremely difficult, but you have outlined it well.

I think delegation meshes well with your previous articles on how to be a good manager. Look for the skills in others and use them wisely.

Thanks for sharing more of your amazing knowledge with us! :-)

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

Hi Carolyn,

Hope you are doing great. Thanks for your comments and your thoughts on delegation. In my opinion, delegation is an art that manager needs to learn with time. Sadly I see them not doing so well on many counts across the globe. I think the points you have raised such as Some managers only give out the grunt work while keeping the best work for themselves. are very right.
I always love to hear from your Carolyn and glad to see you here :) .

Thanks and best regards,
Ashvini

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Aswani September 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

Excellent again. Very realistic points. I agree delegation is an important managerial process and it must be properly handled. As a manager, there are tonnes of things to manage and delegation is surely one of those things where proper understanding of the task is required before handling it to anyone. Those points shared above really must be considered by any manager..!

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

Hi Aswani,

Sorry for the late reply. I was not feeling well from sometimes. I totally agree with you when you say delegation is an important managerial process and it must be properly handled. I hope you are using all your good judgement at the workplace to make sure that delegation goes well.
Thanks for coming around and commenting once again. I really appreciate :)

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Manickam Vijayabanu September 14, 2011 at 12:33 am

Ashvini,
Very nicely categorized the entrustment concepts with simple examples. I like your Caution section which managers should foresee the probabilities while they delegate.
I believe a true manager should hold good command to determine these ‘5W’s to become successful in his mission – What, When, Whom, Why, Where.

Either you work at high profile or an entrepreneur your ability towards delegation will clearly shows your in depth knowledge and successful managerial skills.

Thanks for the wonderful article.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

Hi Manickam,

Thank you once again for adding to the discussion. Sorry for my late reply. The weather here had changed a lot and I fell sick because of it.
These 5W points look great for analyzing the situation and may be I can explore it a little bit more. This is what I like about these discussions, sharing our knowledge with all. Everyone benefits.
I really appreciate that you have put some new ideas into discussion( time for me to go and explore them :) ).

Have a great day :). Keep coming back :)

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Adrienne September 13, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Hi Ashvini,

I agree with Bryce, delegation is something you are going to have to do whether you like it or not. I know from my own experience I had a hard time with that because I knew I could do the job better. But there comes a time when you just have to turn it over if you intend to move forward.

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Ashvini Kumar Saxena September 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

Hi Adrienne,

My apologies for such a late response. I was down with viral and not able to devote time to the blog.
Thanks for your comment my own experience I had a hard time with that because I knew I could do the job better.. I think we all learn over time the things that can be passed over to subordinates. Often doing it yourself is the easy choice because we know that stuff very well. I have faced similar problem all the time. However I have learned that a little badly job done is okay because I can improve on someone else’s work and they learn something that they have never known.

Thank you so much for your comments and sorry again for late response .

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Bryce Christiansen September 12, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Hi Ashvini,

You make some great points here. If you are going to move up in your career, delegation is a skill that you must have. Thanks for giving us some wonderful steps to start improving.

Bryce

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Ashvini September 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Hi Bryce,

Thank you very much for your comment. I am glad that you liked the post.
If you are going to move up in your career, delegation is a skill that you must have. is so true. :)

Hope you are having a great day :)

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