Delegation. It’s a tough topic to broach with professionals who pride themselves on their ability to manage projects and people. Traditionalists preach that “if you want something right, you have to do it yourself,” and while this can be true in certain circumstances, there is more power in proper delegation than some may initially think. Of course, there is a clear difference between delegation and lack of ownership. Skilled leaders will be able to differentiate between the two when deciding on what can be delegated to others., But it is a true reflection of leadership when delegation is used properly. Here are some of the most useful ways to integrate delegation into any professional setting.
Delegation Encourages Accountability
When a project falls solely on one person to ensure all elements are up to date, it can quickly snowball and become overwhelming. Even the most capable worker can have trouble staying on top of a large workload. A shrewd manager can spot these sort of difficulties before they materialize, or they can anticipate the complication and act more proactively. Delegating tasks to other team members builds a sense of ownership and personal accountability for the matter at hand. This removes all responsibility from one person and encourages everyone involved to work as a team instead of for their own interests.
Again, delegation must be done with tact. Simply dumping menial tasks on a lower ranking employee does not qualify as delegating. Rather, if one person is more skilled at, say, graphic design, it might be a time-saver to entrust the design of deliverables to them. Proper use of delegation is also an endorsement of the skill set of other employees, who may be stronger in a given field than the original project manager.
Delegation Allows Employees to Work to Their Potential
By delegating tasks according to workload and skill level, management can ensure that employees are able to utilize the talent they were hired because of. Rather than relying on one workers or too few workers, distribute tasks according to each person’s strengths to increase the success rate and impact of the project.
As mentioned before, delegation is also an endorsement of skill and/or talent, so when used properly this can be a boost to employee morale. By entrusting a task — and remember, not just the tedious tasks that the manager doesn’t want to do — to someone else, a leader is giving them a vote of confidence.
Some management members who profess to be “terrible at delegating” may just need to loosen their grip a bit and not worry about control so much. After all, by allowing others to do quality work the overall project can see improvement and better results.
A strong management team will recognize opportunities for delegation. This practice can benefit both management by freeing up time to dedicate to more pressing issues as well as the workforce by endorsing and validating their skills and giving them a piece of ownership in a project. However, leaders will also be aware of the pitfalls of improper delegation. Namely, improper delegation can cause resentment or poor performance if it’s only an excuse to pass off busy or “grunt” work to lower ranked employees.
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