Secrets of Successful Delegation

Effective delegation is the secret to successful leadership. The purpose is two-fold: to accomplish the task at hand and to develop the employee charged with its completion. Applied properly, it's a technique that saves time, money, and morale, while increasing the capabilities of your human resources. Mishandled, delegation can be a catastrophic failure resulting in poor performance, resentment and inefficiency.

The single biggest secret of effective delegation is accurate definition of the job at hand. Before an employee ever begins a delegated task, he or she should already know the expected outcome, the anticipated time frame, the monitoring and feedback procedures, and the intended implementation of the outcome. Employees need this crucial information to make a project whole in their minds, to enable them to take personal responsibility for its completion.

Encouraging a sense of personal responsibility is another of the secrets of effective delegation. We know that employees who own a project will be more invested, personally and professionally, in its outcome. The secret to fostering this kind of environment lies in conferring the appropriate amount of decision-making power. Personal ownership of a project is only possible if the person charged with its outcome has the power to make decisions that determine the project's success and failure.

It can be equally important, though, to give employees a clear idea of the boundaries of a project, a sense of where their personal responsibility stops, and how interaction and monitoring will play into the equation. Employees should know when and how to involve higher levels of authority; this will make daunting tasks feel more manageable, and provides management with confidence that important projects have the appropriate oversight.

Even the best oversight won't help an employee who's lacking the necessary equipment, information or authority to complete the job. This is the biggest secret of delegation; managers should always remember to delegate the resources necessary to complete the project in a timely fashion. Without his tools, Michelangelo could never have translated his inner vision into the David; in much the same way, your employees need the appropriate resources and authority to complete their assigned tasks.

Even when the task is done, your work as a manager isn't: recognition is one of the most overlooked aspects of delegation, and one of the most important for long-term progress: if you don't acknowledge the good work your employees have done, you can't expect them to volunteer the next time you need help!

author: Robert Bono

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