The Delegation Process (ii): Useful Behaviour Before The Delegation
It is important to select the right person for the task that you want to delegate. Clearly there is no point to delegating a complex new task to someone who does not learn quickly nor has the verbal, manual or conceptual skills to carry it out.
You should consider the following:
- Delegate both good and bad tasks. It is human nature to want to save the good stuff for yourself and offload the bad to others, but this can lead to resentment among staff.
- Delegate gradually. Delegation is not merely taking the contents of an in-tray or action file and handing them over to someone else. Test the water by delegating small tasks before you go on to more complex and difficult ones.
- Delegate in advance. If you wait until a problem develops before you delegate, you are giving messages to employees that may lead to them feeling that 'the only time I get the job is when (s)he is in trouble'. If you delegate in advance, you have got more time for planning and development.
- Delegate for specific results. It can help here to differentiate between the words 'accountability' and 'responsibility'. In the process of delegation, responsibility is the scope of a job - what must be done to carry out the tasks involved. Accountability is the results that must be achieved within the scope of the job. Delegate on the basis of accountability.
- Avoid gaps and overlaps. Make sure that only one person or group is accountable for performance in one particular area and make sure that they know that.
- Communicate constantly. Unless the delegatee knows what is required, delegation is unlikely to be successful. This involves using communication skills to give the delegatee a clear picture of the limits of the assignments, results expected, time limits involved and the method of reporting on the progress of the task assigned. This communication should go on throughout the delegated process.
The more perceived influence over the task the delegatee has, the more likely they will be motivated to carry it out, and the more satisfaction they will take in its completion.