Delegation: The Clout Needed for Productivity

A large managerial role entails making people work, driving productivity and reducing inefficiencies. Part of making people work is making work for people. Too often management holds onto the reigns, gathering all the more balls until they simply cannot be juggled any longer.

 “Delegation is the key to motivating staff. Giving staff ownership drives their belief in themselves, because they perceive this hand over of responsibility as the manager’s belief in their abilities,” confirms Mark Orpen, Chief Executive Officer at The Institute of People Development (IPD). “As is the case with most management functions, however, delegation is a skill that can (and should) be taught, and one which wise managers will hone to perfection.”

 Management specialist, Brian Tracy, offers seven essential steps to effective management and delegation. “These steps serve to ensure that the right tasks are being delegated to the right person,” adds Orpen.

 Firstly, it is essential to pick the right person. “Managers are often disappointed in an employee’s execution of a task, but this is largely due to assigning the task to the wrong employee, resulting in failure,” advises Orpen. This leads to the second step, which is to match the requirements of the job to the abilities of the person being delegated to.

 It is, of course, crucial that the delegation is handled effectively. “Take the time to ensure that the employee understands what is required, so that micromanagement is not required, freeing the manager up to attend to their own higher-level demands. This requires delegating the entire job, giving 100 percent of the responsibility over to the employee. This is a great source of motivation,” says Orpen.

 In line with this, Tracy advises to delegate smaller tasks to newer staff members, building their confidence and competence. To help the employee to achieve success, it is critical to delegate clear outcomes. “When delegating, managers should ensure that the employees are aware of the desired outcomes, and how their success or failure will be measured,” states Orpen. “The staff member should understand why the job needs to be done and, if necessary, be told how best to do it.”

 Lastly, it is essential to delegate with participation and discussion. “Delegation shouldn’t be a one-way demand, it is a conversation, a discussion as to how best to reach the desired outcomes, and an invitation to gain understanding of how to achieve those goals,” concludes Orpen. “To offer this level of communication, managers often require soft skills and general management training, enabling them to guide rather than command. This, in turn, improves relationships between managers and staff, fosters a unified company culture and directs ongoing productivity of the organisation.”