Delegation is a skill of which we have all heard - but which few actually understand and practice in the right sense. It can be used either as an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates, or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realize their full potential. The latter effectively identifies the true meaning of delegation.

Delegation is primarily about entrusting your authority to others. This means that they can act and initiate independently; and that they assume responsibility with you for certain tasks. If something goes wrong, you remain responsible since you are the manager; therefore delegating rights tasks to the right people is very important.

You alone can not accomplish all tasks. Moreover, it does not make sense to do every small thing on your own. Though, sometimes due to various constraints one has to do them.

There are three main reasons for not doing everything on your own.

a. First, you are not an expert and know all the tasks yourself.

b. Second, the task would not be that important where you can justify cost of your time that you would give to the task and most important,

c. Third, if you are too tied-up and hence some decision gets delayed, the cost of delay in taking a decision would be much more than the cost that you would save by getting involved yourself. Let’s take an example of purchases. As head of your business you can get involved in buying everything, from low value items like muslin cloth, floor cleaner to very critical and high value items like machinery and raw material. But your involvement in buying very low value items does not justify your cost of involvement. Your time is much more expensive than you buying a Rs. 20/- floor cleaner and saving Rs.2/- in the process.

Instead, as an entrepreneur you must delegate authority to next level staff for quick decision making and faster work completion. You need to trust your subordinate and delegate authority to an extent where with a wrong decision your interests are not hampered.

ii. Definition
  •  Delegation is a key aspect of leadership. It means assigning work to the right individual, for the right span of time, with the right resources to ensure effective task completion.
  •  Delegation is a style of management which allows the staff to use and develop their skills and knowledge to the full potential. Without delegation, the staff may lose their full value.
iii. Objective
The objective of delegation is to get the job done by someone else effectively.Not just the simple tasks of reading instructions and mechanical labor, but also the decision making and changes which depend upon new information. With delegation, your staff has the authority to react to situations without referring back to you. It may also mean hiring expert services to help perform a job better. You on your own can’t do everything the best way.

For example you may not be perfectly well-versed with maintaining accounts. You could therefore hire the services of a chartered account and delegate him the task of keeping your company accounts.

To enable someone else to do the job for you, you must ensure that:
  •  They know what you want
  •  They have the authority to achieve it
  •  They know how to do it.
To have effective delegation you must put in place well defined processes and systems. With these processes and systems you would be able to:

a. Speed up decision making

b. Reduce project implementation cost

c. Reduce fire-fighting and hence wastage

d. Improve coordination amongst various functions

Everybody’s roles, job responsibilities, and authorities must be defined clearly. It helps in giving concerned person more visibility as to what is his role and limits to discharge his duties effectively.

iv. Information

Clarity and transparency of information is an important aspect of delegation. This means that you must establish a system to enable the flow of information. You must not only establish but also ensure that everybody follows and adheres to the processes by doing a regular process check yourself. Regular communication, in the initial stages of setting up a business with various stakeholders is very critical for effective execution of your plans.

Entrepreneur must be a good communicator. An effective speaker is a good leader. An effective speaker is able to tell other person exactly what is expected of him.

Other important thing is that communication should be two-ways. It may mean inviting active participation of your staff in the decision-making process. It should not so happen that you are the only person telling everything to others. You should allow others to speak and participate. You never know who comes with an idea that would save, if not millions but may be a few thousands for your business. You must give space to other persons to air their views. This kind of delegation will ensure that the staff practices decision-making. Staff will feel that their views are welcome.

v. Poor delegation

You must assign various tasks to different people based on their capability and skill set. An accountant should not be given a task to supervise civil construction work. When there is contradiction and mismatch in skill-set and the assigned job there are more chances of mistakes and sub-optimal decision making.

The signs that tell that delegation is failing are:
  •  Team Motivation / Morale is down
  •  You are always working late
  •  Your team is confused / conflicting / tense
  •  You get questions about delegated tasks too often
  •  Decisions made by you and your team get challenged and too often it is difficult to justify them.
  •  Tasks that you assign don’t get completed on time or are not effective.
Being aware of these symptoms and remedying them could be one effective way to ensure that poor delegation is effectively tackled.

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