Effective Delegation : Tips and Tricks

Yesterday, I had a chance to attend training session for Nutrifood managers. We discussed a lot about how to delegate our job to our subordinates. It’s easy in theoretical but not in reality. Indeed!

At the beginning, we were discussing about an interesting article from Harvard Business Review in November 1974. It said that our job or task is like monkey. If we are keeping too many monkeys, we cannot develop our sub ordinates and do more strategic task in our department/division. So.. it’s really important to delegate your monkey to your subordinates. Do not get yourself in trouble for keeping too many monkeys.. let you handle gorillas or Godzilla, not monkey.. hehehe..

Ok.. let us start with the definition of delegation… Delegation is the transfer of authority from a manager to a subordinate for achieving goals and making decision about how to do a job. There are two types of delegation :

  1. Gopher Delegation is telling employees what to do, how to do it, when it needs to be done, and then sitting at their elbow and making sure they are doing what you asked. Under this type of delegation, employees’ opportunity to develop professionally is limited.
  2.  Stewardship Delegation is focused on results, not methods. It allows the other person to choose how to accomplish the assignment and holds him or her responsible for the results (accountability)

And then, what is the difference between authority and responsibility? Responsibility implies a relationship. The person responsible to ensure something happens in the expected manner. In project management, this means completing all major milestones on or before their scheduled times, keeping costs and cash flow within the project budget, and delivering quality in accordance with the project standards. The person responsible for a project is not necessarily the same person who is allowed to change to the project requirements.  And what about is authority? Authority connotes a function or title. The person authorized to make decisions as to the cost, schedule and other questions that arise throughout the course of the project execution.

These are some tips for you for delegating something to your subordinates. Simple Do and don’ts for you :

  1. Do : making day-to-day minor decision, minor staffing problems, anything your subordinates are expected to do when you are not there, jobs that can develop subordinate in other areas for potential promotion, answering routine questions, and routine clerical duties.
  2. Don’ts : morale and off job problems, a job no one else in the department is qualified to do, personnel issue, assignment from your boss that he expected you to do personally, an emergency or short term task when there is no time to explain.

In the middle of workshop, I had got questioner about how willing are you to delegate and how well you delegate. I had ±34 points for how well section. It means I can delegate something to my subordinates but with correction. In the other hand, I Had ± 41 points for how well section. It means I have to increase my ability to delegate job to my subordinates.

In delegation process, usually there are two barriers to do it. There are technical skill and physiological aspect. For me.. the barrier comes from psychological side.. hahaha :D.. sometime, I fear of becoming invisible and mistakes..

Delegation process to subordinates consists of several levels. Those levels do not indicate how well your subordinates performance.. if your team achieve level six or seven, it means the more tasks can be done by your team.. here there are the levels..

  • Level 7 : decide and take action. You don’t need to check with me
  • Level 6 : decide and take action, but let me know what you did.
  • Level 5 : decide and let me know your decision. Go ahead unless I say stop.
  • Level 4 : decide and let me know your decision. But wait for my go ahead.
  • Level 3 : give me your recommendation, and other options with the pro’s and cons’s of each. I’ll let you know if you can go ahead
  • Level 2 ; look into this and tell me what you come up with
  • Level 1 : wait and be told, or do exactly what I say.

To determine which task we have to delegate, firstly, we have to categorize our task based on urgent and important activities. Task which important-urgent and important-not urgent are not prefer to delegate into subordinate. Whether task that urgent-not important and not important-not urgent are able to delegate.

OK, Now.. How do we communicate the task?

  1. We have to be specific, explain these: a. what you want him/her to do? b. why you want it done? c. why you want him/her to do it? d. where you want it? e. when you want it? f. how you want it?
  2. We have to measure the task with feedback moment or tangible result/ measured result.
  3. We have to be realistic. Ensure the task by asking, did I provide all the authority, information, and resources?
  4. We have to make time line. Discuss your planning, setting deadline together, and stick with the plan.
  5. We have to get their agreement. By involving them in planning, verifying understand, motivation, and willingness, and agreeing the deadline.

Instead of communicating the task, monitoring the task is also important. You have to balance your monitoring system. Do not control as a freak or ignore what your subordinates do. Trust them. Because, the highest form of human motivation is trust. If you cannot trust others, you cannot lead.

Last, but not least.. There is important process to learn and improve your team. Use feedback! Because we can learn was this the correct task to delegate, did I delegate it to the right person, should the task include more/less responsibility or complexity, did I communicate correctly, which parts of my communication can improve for next time?

Hmm… it’s not easy right? Yeaah.. But if you want to learn and develop yourself.. Impossible is nothing!

Keep up the good work my friend! You can do it!!


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