Repeatedly, as I work with organization after organization, the failure to delegate is a key factor holding many mid-level managers back from promotions and additional responsibility.
I return to the classic definition of delegating, which is not simply the assignment of tasks to others. Rather, it is the transfer of a task, activity, or project that belongs to the manager to someone else, usually an employee. With that delegation comes responsibility, but never accountability. The delegating manager always retains the accountability to senior management for the execution or results associated with the delegated task, activity, or project.
Senior managers view skillful delegation as an important competency that is necessary to achieve higher authority and greater responsibility in an organization. Managers who hoard important tasks and responsibilities in order that they may demonstrate that they are skillful and able to complete and execute activities and projects are sorely mistaken and misguided.
Why do so many managers fail to delegate? Let’s make a list:
1. They do not trust their employees to complete the task effectively or efficiently.
2. They like to do the task themselves.
3. They worry about their own job security – if someone else can do the task, who needs them?
4. They do not want to take the time to fully explain all of the details associated with the task.
Delegating tasks to others regularly and correctly is a true “feather in the cap” for a manager. If an employee is not ready to delegate a task to, the manager should coach the employee in the constitutent skills until he or she is ready. Delegating a task to someone who is not competent or committed is a recipe for failure.
If you are interested in my template, “The Delegation Conversation,” that will help a manager have a successful initial meeting with an employee, and get him or her off to a great start with a delegated task, I am happy to send it to you. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will see you next time around!
Karl J. Krayer, Ph.D. – President – Creative Communication Network