Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Delegating — Ten Ways To Make It Work

This post ties in with the first two, Delegating Dilemmas and Delegating–When and Why.

How supervisors can delegate effectively:

1. Be honest and positive, rather than over-selling what is essentially just a task that needs to be done. If you simply want to assign a task you have been doing–or could do–to someone else, assign it in an upbeat way and move on. Do not attempt to sell it as a great career opportunity unless it really is.

2. Keep a record of delegated tasks so you can reflect it on performance evaluations, in conversations, for follow-up and monitoring, and to ensure you do not overuse one or a few employees. Be as effusive in your praise as you honestly can be.

3. Maintain a relationship in your workplace that is so positive with most employees they are not likely to resent your delegation of tasks. When employees know of your commitment and work ethic they are more positive about taking on more work themselves–even work they know you were originally assigned to do.

4. Do not apologize for delegating or directing work. Some supervisors assign work as though they are afraid they are going to be kicked by the employee. Just do it–in a courteous, smiling way that assumes everyone is willing to work to their maximum.

5. Ensure the employee knows how to do the assigned work and has the resources and authority required.

6. Follow-up and monitor. If the delegated work is a one-time project that will take time over several days or weeks, both the supervisor and employee should schedule check-in times. If the work is being permanently delegated, a few follow-up times may be all that is needed, except for routine supervisory awareness.

7. Make work delegation a way for you to evaluate behavior and performance. When new work is assigned is often the main time we find out what the character and personality of an employee is really like. That is also the time to immediately communicate about it to the employee, positively or in a corrective manner.

8. Watch and listen for how an employee is reacting to delegated work. If he or she portrays someone who is overworked and harried, it may be true–or the employee may be over-dramatizing to get sympathy, impress others, or present you in a negative light. Do not let that continue. It may indicate that you need to reassign the work to someone else, or provide support or training. It certainly presents a bad image of your sensitivity to workloads, whether it is justified behavior or not. Find out the problem and work with the employee to correct it.

9. Make good use of your own time, so that clearing your desk of work does not just become freeing you up to sit and chat, read a newspaper for several hours every day, leave early to play golf, or play video games on the computer. (I have seen all of those things done by supervisors who bragged about knowing how to delegate.)

10. Remember that supervisors are ultimately responsible. It is rarely an accepted excuse that you thought an employee was doing the right thing. The old adage is true that you delegate the authority to complete a task, but you do cannot delegate supervisory responsibility for it.

There are three issues that apply to every aspect of work–especially to delegation: Expectations, communications and overall work relationships. Keep those positive and delegating work becomes easy.

April 17th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | no comments

Delegating — When and Why

If you are a supervisor and feel perpetually pressured for time, you probably need to manage your time more effectively. (I feel incredibly guilty writing that, because I am notorious for being under time pressure. This is a classic case of “Do as I say because I know it’s right, even if I have trouble applying it.”)

  • Stop wasting time in unproductive activities that are not related to actual work!
  • Stop volunteering for work that no one really expects you to do. (Remember that it only makes you feel good to volunteer, not to actually do it.)
  • Stop doing work that is lower level than your job description.
  • Share work, or give it to employees who would like the challenge or the novelty of something you are now doing or have been asked to do by your manager.

That brings us to this post. Delegation is a prime employee-development and supervisory time-management tool.

Some reminders about delegation:

1. It is appropriate for supervisors and managers to delegate work down to the lowest level capable of doing it (within job descriptions).

2. Delegating work  is one of the best ways to help employees gain higher-level skills. If they aspire to higher positions in the organization, it can be helpful for that reason. If they do not, they will learn to see some of the bigger picture of what it takes to make an organization work.

3. Delegating work often results in work improvement. (A supervisor needs to watch that an employee doesn’t improve a task out of existence–unless that is a good idea!)

4. Delegating provides one more way for supervisors to train, commend, re-direct, be valuable, and in other ways gain more influence in the lives of employees.

5. Work that is delegated now and then, but not all the time, can positively break-up the routine.

6. Work that is delegated permanently can allow supervisors to focus on other key tasks and allow employees to become a resource, or to feel more valued as a team member.

Do some self-talk if you have to, to get comfortable with the idea of looking over your stack of work and parceling out to as many people as possible. A bit here and a bit there and you might help yourself a great deal–even if you have to spend a few minutes explaining a task. Delegation is probably why so many other managers seem much less harried and pressured than you do! And, you can bet you won’t be left twiddling your thumbs. But you may be able to go home almost on time.

April 17th, 2008 Posted by | Supervision and Management | no comments