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Delegating Responsibility

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Time is your most precious commodity. No matter how hard you try, you can’t do everything by yourself. Many supervisors avoid delegating responsibilities and the reasons for this vary. Those who have moved up through the ranks of a company may be uncomfortable or simply not used to delegating. Others live by the words “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” And then there are some who fear delegating may mean being outshined by their employee.

Whatever your feelings, as a manager you need to realize that you are not a regular employee, you are a coach. Coaches must understand the importance of teaching, motivating, and taking pride in the performance of their charges. To do this, you must learn how to delegate efficiently and responsibly.

Some Things Should Not be Delegated

Never delegate sensitive projects to your employees. If you are in charge of the project because of your expertise, you should complete it yourself. If the project is confidential in any way, be very careful about outsourcing the work. Keep in mind that some jobs need to be done by the person in charge. At the same time, try to avoid delegating only the “dirty work”. Give your employees something fun and interesting to do once in awhile.

Assign Duties to the Individual Best Suited for the Project

There are many things to evaluate before delegating duties. Consider your employees’ skill level, motivation, and dependability. Remember, not every employee is created equal. Certain people will be more efficient than others depending upon the facet in which they thrive. At the same time, try not to typecast your employees. Give them opportunities to broaden their horizons and become more valuable to the team. Matching the proper person to each task can be difficult. Start small and be patient.

Make Your Instructions as Clear as Possible

When you are assigning unfamiliar duties, be very specific when you explain what you need. By detailing an assignment, you leave no room for confusion and therefore, no room for error. If you have a long list of verbal instructions, type them out. This will give your employee something to refer to when they are performing a task that is unfamiliar to them. If possible, train two people to do the same thing. This way, they can refer to one another for questions, rather than coming to you. It is also essential that your employee has a clear understanding of their authority in each situation. When a decision needs to be made regarding their assignment, should they use their best judgment or should they come to you immediately for clarification? This will be one of your hardest decisions to make, because it could mean the difference between success and failure. When in doubt, retain control. Once an employee had proved their capability, give them more responsibility in the decision-making department.

Measure and Control Projects

Measure the performance of employees and delegated projects. Explain to them how performance will be measured and let the employee know the level of accountability that comes with the task. Clarifying these things beforehand will make everything run much smoother. Large projects may be easier to monitor if they are broken into smaller segments. Spread the assignments throughout your staff and make them report to you after each segment of the project has been finished. Also, get feedback from your employees via meetings and reports. Do this daily, weekly, or monthly. Know what’s going on around you. Staying informed limits the possibility of failure. As a supervisor, you are responsible and accountable for your employees and their work.

Coaching Your Staff

One of the most important parts of delegation is coaching. When you delegate an assignment, make it clear to them that they can come to you with questions. New tasks can be confusing. Above all, be patient. You should consistently motivate your staff and commend them when they do well. If they complete an assignment, but they don’t do a good job, find out why. Pinpoint what went wrong and take steps to address the issue. On the other hand, when tasks are completed effectively, give your employee the recognition they deserve. Whether it is public recognition or one-on-one, your employee will value being given credit for their work. Doing this not only makes your employee feel good, it will also motivate them to continue their on-the-job success.

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