At the heart of effective delegation is the concept of “delegation power.” This refers to the idea that delegation is not just about assigning tasks, but about empowering team members to use their skills and experience to achieve a common goal.
When leaders delegate effectively, they give their team members the power to take ownership of their work, make decisions, and contribute to the organization’s success.
Delegation power – what are the benefits?
Delegation offers benefits for both the leaders and their team members.
- Increased productivity: Delegating tasks to team members allows leaders to focus on higher-level responsibilities, resulting in increased productivity for both the leader and their team.
- Development of skills: Delegating tasks can help team members develop new skills, gain experience, and take on more responsibility, leading to their growth and development.
- Improved time management: Delegating tasks can help leaders manage their time better by allowing them to focus on their most important tasks while entrusting others with tasks that can be handled by them.
- Building trust: Delegating tasks and responsibilities to team members shows trust in their abilities, which can help build stronger relationships and a positive culture within the team.
- Enhancing teamwork: Delegating tasks can foster teamwork, communication and collaboration among team members by providing opportunities for joint work and promoting interdependence.
- Encouraging innovation: Delegating tasks to team members can foster a culture of innovation by allowing them to take ownership of tasks and bring fresh perspectives and ideas.
Overall, delegation is a powerful instrument to enhance efficiency, skill development, and collaboration, while also building trust and enhancing the overall culture of the team.
Downsides of delegating in leadership
While delegation power can offer many benefits, there are also some downsides to consider. Here are some potential drawbacks of delegation:
- Risk of task failure: When delegating tasks, there is always a risk that the person or team to whom it is delegated may not complete the task successfully or satisfactorily.
- Lack of control: Delegating tasks means that the leader gives up some control over the outcome, which can be difficult for some leaders to accept.
- Potential for miscommunication: When tasks are delegated, there is a risk of miscommunication or misunderstanding, which can lead to confusion, mistakes, and even conflict.
- Time and effort required for delegation: Delegation requires time and effort, especially in the initial stages, to identify appropriate tasks, select team members, provide clear instructions, and monitor progress.
- Lack of trust: Delegation can be undermined by a lack of trust between the leader and the team member, which can lead to micromanagement or the reluctance to delegate tasks in the future.
- Limited skill development: While delegation can help team members develop new skills, if tasks are too simplistic, they may not provide sufficient opportunities for growth or skill development.
When delegation won’t work
Delegation is not always the best solution in every situation. In the following scenario’s delegation is not appropriate:
- New or critical tasks: When a task is new or critical to the organization, delegation may not be the best solution because it may require the leader’s unique knowledge or expertise.
- Confidential or sensitive tasks: Tasks that involve sensitive or confidential information may not be appropriate for delegation due to the risk of information leakage.
- Lack of trust or competence: If a leader does not trust a team member’s ability to complete a task or if the team member lacks the necessary skills or competence, delegation may not be appropriate.
- Lack of time: In situations where a task needs to be completed quickly or in a short time frame, it may not be feasible to delegate the task.
- Lack of resources: If resources such as tools, budget, or manpower are limited, delegation may not be an option as the task cannot be completed effectively.
- High-risk situations: Tasks that involve high-risk activities, such as safety-critical tasks, may not be suitable for delegation due to the potential risks involved.
In these situations, leaders should consider alternative approaches, such as training, coaching, collaboration, or taking on the task themselves.
Why People Don’t Delegate
Although power-delegation offers mostly benefits, the potential downsides may discourage some leaders from delegating tasks to others. This can be a reason why people avoid delegation altogether.
It is important to identify your own reasons if delegating is not one of your strengths.
Leaders who do not delegate tasks may become overburdened, leading to burnout and decreased productivity. It is essential to identify and overcome any barriers to delegation and develop the necessary skills to delegate effectively, to build a more effective team, and achieve their goals.
The fear of dumping work
Some people may feel that by delegating work to others, they are simply “dumping” their own work on others, which can create feelings of guilt or a sense of unfairness.
However, it’s important to remember that delegation is not about offloading work onto others without taking responsibility for it.
Instead, it is about assigning tasks to others in a thoughtful, strategic way that helps to maximize the strengths of the team and contribute to the overall success of the organization.
Key strategies for Delegation Power
So how can leaders harness the delegation power to build more effective teams and achieve better results? Here are some key strategies to consider:
- Clarify expectations and objectives: Before delegating a task, it’s important to clearly communicate the expectations and objectives to the team member. This includes explaining what needs to be done, why it’s important, and how success will be measured. By setting clear expectations and objectives, leaders can help their team members understand what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the organization’s goals.
- Choose the right person for the task: To harness delegation power, it’s important to choose the right person for the task. This means considering factors such as the team member’s skills, experience, and development needs. By delegating tasks that are aligned with a team member’s strengths and interests, leaders can help them grow and develop while also achieving better results.
- Provide support and resources: To empower team members to complete a task successfully, it’s important to provide them with the support and resources they need. This includes providing access to tools, training, and guidance as needed. By giving team members the resources they need to succeed, leaders can build their confidence and trust in their own abilities.
- Monitor progress and provide feedback: Effective delegation requires ongoing communication and feedback. This includes monitoring progress, checking in with team members, and providing feedback on their work. By providing regular feedback and support, leaders can help their team members stay on track and achieve their goals.
- Celebrate successes and learn from failures: Finally, to harness the delegation power, it’s important to celebrate successes and learn from failures. By recognizing and celebrating the achievements of team members, leaders can build a culture of trust and collaboration. At the same time, by learning from failures and using them as opportunities for growth and development, leaders can help their team members become more resilient and adaptable.
Overcoming the “fear” of delegation Power
If you really want to use the power of delegation in your leadership, here is a checklist to use:
Identify the task:
- What is the task that needs to be completed?
- Why is this task important for the organization?
- How does this task align with the organization’s goals?
- Is this task suitable for delegation?
Determine the objectives:
- What are the specific objectives for the task?
- What are the desired outcomes of the task?
- How will success be measured for this task?
Choose the right person:
- Who are the team members with the appropriate skills and experience for this task?
- What are their strengths, weaknesses, and development needs?
- How will this task help them grow and develop?
Explain the task:
- What are the requirements and expectations for this task?
- What resources are available to support the team member in completing the task?
- How will progress be monitored and evaluated?
Set a deadline:
- What is the timeline for completing this task?
- What factors may impact the timeline and how will they be addressed?
- How will progress be tracked to ensure the deadline is met?
- How will progress be monitored and evaluated?
- How often will check-ins be conducted and what form will they take?
- How will feedback be provided to the team member?
Review the results:
- Was the task completed successfully?
- What were the results and outcomes of the task?
- What feedback should be provided to the team member?
When to delegate:
- Is the task not critical to the organization’s success?
- Is the task not within the leader’s core competency?
- Do others have the necessary skills and experience to complete the task successfully?
- Is the task a development opportunity for team members?
- Does the leader lack the time to complete the task effectively?
- Does delegating help build a more effective team?
- Does delegating free up the leader’s time to focus on critical tasks?
- Does delegating provide development opportunities for team members?
- Does delegating enhance the organization’s overall capabilities and success?
The book “Delegation: The Most Rewarding, Frustrating . . . Awesome Part of Running Your Business” by Dave Ramsey is at the top of my book list of books I want to read.
In the meantime, watch this great video about how to delegate.
I You would like some more ‘technical information’ about delegation, check Wikipedia.