Leadership: Leadership – Delegates Responsibility

Delegating Responsibility has four skills:

  • knows when to delegate and when to take personal responsibility;
  • delegates the right job to people with capacity to learn and do the job;
  • gives others authority to independently fulfill responsibilities; and
  • empowers others to find creative solutions to problems

Delegating responsibility is one of the key factors in developing the capacity of others, but many managers have not mastered the skills for effective delegation.

Knows when to delegate and when to take personal responsibility. Managers tend to make either of 2 kinds of mistakes in delegation: First, they tend to delegate too little to staff that have capacity to learn the job. In this mistake, the manager holds on to duties direct reports should be doing themselves. For example, County Directors might be performing parts of a supervisor’s job, or a supervisor might be simply correcting worker’s mistakes, and not teaching the worker to stop making the mistake. Underlying this delegating mistake is the failure of the manager to focus on the direct report’s required performance and probably the failure to provide the necessary coaching.

The second type of mistake managers make is delegating before a direct report has demonstrated the ability to do the job. This may occur because of the arrival several direct reports at the same time, and the manager feels pressured to spread the workload out quickly. The second delegation mistake might simply be the manager’s style, to emphasize productivity without emphasizing support and development of direct reports. Regardless of the reason for delegating too soon, it results in overwhelming new people and denying them the opportunity to succeed in their jobs. This mistake, early in someone’s career, can set up a long-term pattern of failure and dissatisfaction.

The keys to effective delegation are: Know the job requirements, know the abilities and learning capacity of your individual direct reports, and grow your people through coaching and training.

Delegate the right job to people with capacity to learn and do the job. Managers who delegate effectively have the ability to see the big picture needs of the organization and the clients. At the same time these managers see the needs of the direct report in front of them. They understand the return on their investment when they take the time to develop their people.

Delegation is successful when managers coach their direct reports and gradually give them the authority to independently fulfill their job responsibilities. Managers can grow their employees further by empowering them to find creative solutions to problems. Staffs learn to solve problems creatively when managers first model this skill, and then give staff the opportunity to resolve problems. In order to grow staff in this way, the manager must resist the urge to jump in and solve every problem. Proper delegation strengthens employees, and makes you more effective as a manager.

For additional growth in delegating:

  • Read Bringing Out the Best in Others, by Thomas Connellan, Ph.D.;
  • Develop your Coaching Skills through coaching workshops;
  • Review Coaching for Improved Work Performance, by F.F. Fournies.
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