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The Delegation Process Steps Every Manager Should Practice

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

The Delegation Process Steps Every Manager Should Practice

Delegation is a necessity to run everyday life. After all, one person can’t be everywhere. More importantly, one can’t do everything themselves. Delegation process steps help managers take control of projects by assigning work to others. It structures the practice around realistic expectations.

A business that operates in a competitive market, dealing with several priority projects while employing a sizable workforce needs managers who know how to delegate tasks. Only then can you get more done in less time, which is essentially what it means to do things efficiently.

What’s more, delegation ensures tasks are distributed according to its priority and the capability, expertise, and availability of the employees. In this post, we’ll first define what delegation is, and then walk you through the delegation process steps.

1. What is Delegation?

Delegation is the practice of managers assigning a specific task or duty to subordinates in the workplace. A more recent definition is based on situational leadership, as offered by leadership experts Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey.
Delegation is not dumping work on someone else. It's not about you shirking off your own duties. It's also not just simply distributing work. Leaders put a lot of thought into planning out the effort hours, personnel, and resources required to get the job done. It categorizes delegation according to the type and level of engagement between seniors and associates, and are follows:

  1. Directing

    Directing is applicable to delegating work to inexperienced employees. Such staff requires a confidence boost which leaders provide by being closely involved to instruct, support, and guide. In a directorial style of work delegation, leaders must make sure goals and desired outcomes are clear to the people being assigned the work and should be on the ground to clarify doubts.

  2. Coaching

    Coaching is suitable for leaders wishing to direct without close involvement. Leaders communicate how things should be done, and encourage subordinates to maintain their energy and enthusiasm if it dips at any stage later in the course of execution.

  3. Supporting

    Supportive delegation happens overtime when the employee gains more confidence and is comfortable taking on added responsibility and leadership. The manager or team leader's role in this is to build them up via conversations and regular check-ins but allows the subordinate to be more decisive within his or her capacity.

  4. Delegating

    In this stage, the employee takes ownership of the project and is largely left in charge of achieving the outcome necessarily. This is often the last step over years of acquired experience and familiarity with the internal workings of a business. Delegation means handing over authority to someone who shows initiative and competence to follow through. You essentially transfer responsibility for specific tasks, duties, or decisions to another person. Delegation depends on the situation. The factors that determine delegation process steps include who is doing the delegation, and to whom, and what makes this person the best suited or most qualified for the duration of the task or activity. A true leader identifies his or her team’s individual strengths and delegates work that challenges and interests them.

2. Steps in the Process for Effective Delegation

The delegation process in an organization are as follows -

  1. Define the Task

    The task needs to have a clear objective and outcomes in order to come up with the means to achieving it. Identify the priorities by requirement, deadlines, and possibility of meeting them. It then becomes easier to break the overall project down to chunks that further determine the person and resources needed.

  2. Select the Individual or Team

    The individual you select should show demonstrable competence, initiative, and awareness. This is the next crucial step after identifying the requirements of the project. It determines if the desired results will be delivered. The questions you should ask yourself are; who is the best person to do the task? What does their availability look like for the duration you have in mind? Is there someone to stand in for them in the event they are unable to, or unwilling to commit for all of the time required? Are there any other requisites such as upskilling or reskilling that will enhance their existing capabilities?

  3. Make the Deliverables Clear

    Brief the team on what needs doing, by when, and any dependencies within the project that require different individuals to pool in their skills and collaborate. Unclear objectives lead to shortcuts, more errors, and delays. Your team may be answerable to you, but you in turn are answerable to the client and Board. Such incidents are avoidable provided your team is able to comprehend what is expected of them, and can express their concerns to you regarding the process.

  4. Communicate your Trust in their Ability

    Expect some hesitation from members if you’re assigning them something new for them for the first time. It's your job to convey that you trust them completely and hence consider them suitably qualified for the task, decision, or activity. It's not about enforcing the responsibility on them. Rather, it's about communicating the reasons behind your decision to delegate this particular work, and why you believe that particular person can, and will deliver.

  5. Clarify Responsibility, Accountability, and Authority

    Label the level of responsibility, authority, and accountability for each person. Doing this from the beginning lets them coordinate work amongst each other with a prior understanding of which skills to utilize, and who to go to for the next action. It also prevents the employees from punting their work to a coworker, thereby leading to some members being overloaded and pressed for time. Take the temperature of the team and confirm that they are clear, and comfortable with the level of responsibility, authority, and level of resourcing.

  6. Establish Deadlines and Priorities

    Once a realistic deadline is established, ensure that the team is in agreement with their ability to complete tasks within that time frame. If they express doubt over any particular area or require further instruction, information or guidance, be sure to respond to such concerns from the start. Only then can you create procedures that help workers recognize and mitigate issues without your direct involvement necessary. Do not make the mistake of narrowing down estimates if the member tells you that the work will be time or labor-intensive. Instead, go over the deadlines and priorities collectively so that there is no confusion later on down the line.

  7. Allocate Resources Required for Assistance

    Identify the quantity and type of resources required (i.e. hardware, stationery, documents, software, or more people) needed and by how much your budget can accommodate such resources. A sufficient supply or release of such resources into projects as they are underway ensures that the work delegated does not get halted or frozen.

  8. Establish Channels for Support

    As mentioned previously, delegation differs situationally and by the organization. While you should trust your team to deliver what you have assigned to them, you should also establish measures and the extent to which you wish to be involved should there be a crisis. Create a channel online for discussions related to the project in-flight. Provide documentation in a central hub for your teams to easily retrieve, as well as private and group chats to answer specific questions.

  9. Review Work Done

    Go over the work with individual team members and ask them questions based on how they got on. Deliberate over bottlenecks and the solutions your team came up, and attend to approval requests in time so that if something needs your go-ahead, you can look at the progress made and ensure no one is held up.

  10. Credit Efforts

    Remember to praise and give recognition at appropriate times during and after the project, task or activity is completed. Verbal appreciation lets teams know their efforts are paying off, and are being noticed. You can even hint at the type of appraisal you’ll give them when it's time.

  11. Provide Feedback on Results

    Remember to give constructive feedback to your team. Let them know what they are getting right, and indicate those areas that could have been improved or done differently. If it's a question of being more comfortable with an outdated process, or unaware of a faster or more efficient way of doing the work, this is the part where you correct those deficits. Honest feedback helps your teams take your inputs into consideration with the right mindset.

3. What are the Reasons for Delegation?

The biggest mistakes managers make is remaining mistrustful of their team’s credibility despite repeat incidents that indicate otherwise. If a manager fails to delegate work efficiently, they are basically risking doing ‘shallow work’ themselves. In other words, they are distracted from their core work and end up trying to shoulder everything, while doing no single activity justice.
Three reasons why a manager should institute delegation process steps are;

  1. Freeing Up Your Time

    Delegation leaves a manager with more time on their hands to focus on devising strategy, planning in advance and other decision-based tasks.

  2. Building a Circle of Trust

    A circle of trust comprises competent and confident employees. Assigning them work that lets them play to their strengths indicates your faith in their ability to accomplish it. Successful managers know how to utilize the skills of others, and contribute to their team’s professional development.

  3. Enabling, Empowering and Engaging Teams

    Delegation lets individuals pick up skills beyond their principal knowledge. They are more likely to engage with other employees, absorb information better from such interactions and improve productivity. Being assigned work or entrusted with a responsibility makes them more accountable for achieving it. The manager delegating the work knows who amongst the workforce possess the practical competencies to take on the required responsibility.

4. Principles of Delegation

The principles of delegation are broadly divided into four categories which are

  1. Principle of Results Expected

    This principle of delegation refers to a manager being able to define goals, performance standards and results expected clearly to their teams.

  2. Principle of Parity

    A subordinate is responsible for performing a task. He, or she gets sufficient independence and power to execute it effectively. There’s no room for abuse of power.

  3. Principle of Absolute Responsibility

    The manager delegates the task but remains responsible for the end result to his or her superiors. It deters managing from sloughing off accountability to someone below them.

  4. Principle by Authority

    The principle of delegation here restricts a manager’s authority within a framework and jurisdiction.

5. Examples of Delegation in the Workplace

The most basic and commonly found example of delegation in the workplace is telling someone what they will be doing, and providing them with the resources to get it done.

Other examples of delegation in the workplace put subordinates in charge of research for a project, or controlling a process. The degree of flexibility differs, and gives subordinates more freedom and creativity to get to the end. For instance, an IT manager who assigns the task of taking over setting up of accounts for new hires to a system administrator. This would require the person to have access to records and apply the required intranet and internet security protocol.

Effective delegation process steps get more done in less time, boosts the competency pool and keeps your employees motivated and engaged. So, are you ready to apply delegation within your organization?

6. FAQs

6.1. What are the 5 types of delegation?

The 5 types of delegation are - assigning tasks, returning the tasks, seeking guidance, assigning tasks to peers, assigning tasks to individuals in different departments

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