How to Delegate Effectively

Delegation can be defined as:

‘A process whereby an individual is selected from a group of candidates and empowered to complete a clearly defined task by giving them responsibility, authority and all the necessary resources to succeed.’

It is important to remember that the overall accountability for the task remains with the manager. The manager monitors progress and ensures are specified performance measures, or pre-defined standards are being met by the selected candidate.

At Jarrold Training we would advise strongly that the following stages are followed;

  • Plan
  • Act
  • Evaluate

PLAN

Define the task, what it is that needs to be done and what is the desired result? Make sure the definition of the task is clear, concise and detailed.

  • The desired result needs to be written clearly following the SMART process. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and with a Time Bound element.
  • Reflect on the skills, experience, knowledge and mind-set required to accomplish the desired result that have been clearly laid out in the SMART target. You may well wish to weave in insight into personal motivations such as are laid out via Insights Discovery or Francis’ (1985) Career Drivers. This will inform the manager of how to proceed to c)
  • Select the best person for the task from a range of potential candidates. Pair the requirements with the capabilities of the person. It may be necessary to consider additional information like; availability, current workload, qualifications, behaviours and prior experience.
  • A skills matrix with a simple scoring system should be drawn up to help justify the best candidate. A basic example is shown below which helps select the best person to complete a particular task, where a weighting is applied to relevant qualifications.
CANDIDATE Qualifications Skills Experience Reliability/
Punctuality
Attention to Detail SCORE
Trevor 14 7 10 5 9 45
Antonia 14 6 8 8 7 43
Andzelica 18 7 8 9 7 49
Shaid 12 9 6 7 8 42
Abbie 16 9 9 9 6 49

Scoring: (1 – 10, 1 = poor 10 = excellent). A weighting of x2 has been applied to the qualification criteria.

The example demonstrates that, based on the scoring system, Andzelica and Abbie should be considered for the task. The manager may need to use their own personal knowledge of them justify which is then preferred based on other subjective or objective criteria. Perhaps one had expressed an interest in the task via a Formal Appraisal process or is a candidate in the D3 stage of career development according to Hersey and Blanchard Situational Leadership (1977)

  • Arrange a meeting with the chosen candidate

ACT

  • Meet with the chosen candidate. Explain the why the task needs to be done, its importance and possible complications that can occur. Be honest about what is involved and what will be expected of them.
  • Refer to the SMART target that has been defined in the planning stage to determine the standards that will be used to measure success of the task’s completion. It is important that the candidate clearly understands the results required.
  • Explain to them why you have chosen them for the job and why you think it may be of benefit to them. This should be a positive experience which the delegate welcomes. Allow them the opportunity to ask questions and make sure you listen to them. Gauge their reaction and interest before giving them responsibility, authority and mandate to progress with the task. The manager should be satisfied at this point that they are the correct person for the task.
  • Ask the individual to create a draft plan of action for tackling the task. Encourage them to think of their own ideas and solutions. They have been delegated to and not simply allocated the task. This is the first step in the manager moving away from having a direct input but will always be available for advice or guidance if needed.
  • Organise a meeting to review their plan. Determine the resources, equipment and expertise required to complete the task. This may include training, budget, resources or relinquishing other responsibilities which may be a barrier to progressing.
  • Agree deadlines and decide how progress will be reviewed and controlled.
  • Review all the information then let the individual progress with the task. Reaffirm your willingness to help and explain how and where help is available from other parts of the business. Take a step back and monitor progress but it is important they are allowed to move forward with the task you have delegated to them.
  • As the person ultimately still with accountability it is important that you have recorded the details of the delegation and that you keep to any agreed performance reviews. We highly recommend the creation of tracking documents especially if several people have been delegated to.
  • Finally, if you agree to times to meet up to review progress, then ensure you meet these agreements as it is an essential behaviour which develops and maintains trust.

EVALUATE

Once the delegated task is completed, allocate some time to thoroughly review and evaluate the success of task by;

  • Involving the person who completed the task and giving feedback linking it back to the original SMART target agreed in the ‘ACT’ stage of delegation. Focus on the results more than the methods used.
  • Discussing what went well and giving praise when deserved. Highlight areas for improvement and outline how you will support them in this. Feedback should always be given with the intent to aid development. A feedback model such as STAARR would be appropriate here.
  • Checking whether the candidate thought they had been given adequate authority to be successful.
  • Asking if the candidate felt that they had gained something by being given the task. This could be motivation, experience or the satisfaction of seeing a task through to a successful conclusion.

An effective delegation means:

  • The desired results have been met.
  • An individual feels they had the authority and have been empowered to complete the task.
  • Minimal input has been required by the person that has set the task. One of the main barriers to delegation is the time it takes, one of the major benefits is the long term time it will create for the manager.
  • That productivity has improved as there is no longer a reliance on one person to complete a task.
  • A development of skills has been attained.
  • Trust has been built and maintained. Delegation is a brilliant behaviour for this.
  • The manager has been released to concentrate on higher priority tasks long term.
  • The manager has maintained accountability for the task.

In many organisations tasks are allocated or abdicated to people. Rarely is a full and thorough delegation carried out. One of the easily identifiable attributes of a high performing team is when people welcome being ‘delegated to’ as they recognise it is carried out with the intention to develop long term capability and is based on trust and respect within the workplace.

By Elliot at Jarrold Training

January 2022.

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