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Recently, I led in a seminar for managers that combined two topics: “A Positive, Proactive Approach to Personal and Group Accountability” and “Are We Communicating Yet?” As I dealt with accountability and communication, the meeting planner wanted me to hone in on delegation. She said this was an area in which the managers needed and wanted guidance.
The participants responded very positively. Following the seminar, I thought about how delegation is not only valuable to managers and employees but also to other leaders and followers. Good delegation in any institution increases everyone’s growth and productivity. This column deals with delegation in business but can be adapted to various situations.
Delegation is a developed skill that requires awareness, sensitivity and knowledge. Poor delegation is worse than none at all. It destroys morale, kills motivation and wastes time and money as you end up passing the buck or dumping on people. Good delegation is more than getting others to do unpleasant jobs or busywork or giving something to someone else because you are rushed and have no other alternatives.
Initially, delegation may take more time than you want to afford it and you may decide to do the task yourself. But when you learn to delegate correctly, it saves much more time than it takes. It also empowers you and the people to whom tasks are delegated. Establishing a good delegation system is the hardest and most time-consuming part, but the payout will be better and more profitable management of your time and employees’ time. Financial institutions profit from managing other people’s money. Business leaders profit from managing other people’s time.
Think before you delegate. Planning ahead and delegating well in advance of deadlines allows you to be more decisive. Delegating regularly and systematically leads employees to expect it. Select the time, situation and method. The method should be determined by the complexity of the task, the confidentially involved and the skills of the employee. Communicate face-to-face the more complex tasks that require the give and take of questions and answers. Memos will suffice for smaller, simpler chores.

Clearly define the task to be delegated and the objective. Is it worthy of assignment or should it be dropped? If you decide it is worthy, can someone else handle the task and the authority that accompanies it? Can you communicate the task clearly?
Carefully select the person to receive the task. Base your selection on situational and organizational objectives. Do you want the most capable person doing it as quickly as possible? Or, is it a task with which you can provide an inexperienced employee an opportunity to grow? Or, maybe this is a task for which you want to use a rotation system so each employee is called on and thereby feels he or she is contributing regularly. Ask yourself if the person can complete the task efficiently and effectively within the time frame required. If he or she can’t, then what will be sacrificed?
Explain the importance of the task, the priorities and why you selected the person. Clarify the desired results and the authority that accompanies the task. Be certain the person understands how he or she is to be held accountable. Establish mutual deadlines. Emphasize your availability for questions along the way. Assure the person that others in the organization will be notified and asked to cooperate. Provide incentives when possible.
Monitor progress, use feedback to keep employee on track and motivate throughout. Keep in mind that it is better to coach than demand. Also keep in mind that you get what you “inspect” more than what you “expect” when working through other people. Review the results, evaluate and reward when merited. Avoid the “more work reward” unless you accompany this with recognition, advancement and tangible payouts.
Delegate correctly and you will find yourself saving time and having the opportunity to invest your time in higher priority tasks. You will also discover employees are stronger, more dependable and more fulfilled under the tutelage of your leadership.

Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or carlmays@carlmays.com. His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on www.carlmays.com (PayPal Secure) and www.amazon.com.


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