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Developing Team Skills Through Delegation

Posted on the 29 March 2011 by Combi31 @combi31

Developing Team Skills Through Delegation

Delegation is one of the key aspects of leadership and management and one of the kingpins in the development of human capital throughout the organisation, a skill that can be learnt, but one that is often mismanaged.

Taken at its root, delegation is defined in most dictionaries as :

1. The act of delegating, or investing with authority to act for another; the appointment of a delegate or delegates.[1913 Webster}

However, there are many instances where delegation results in the giving of mundane or repetitive tasks to another person to fulfill with very little notion of authority - well as long as things are going well.

Conversely, when things tun out badly, the authority comes tumbling down from above on the delegee, who usually takes full responsibility for 'failure' resulting from delegation.

Now, this is not delegation at all - no matter how we look at it.
Delegation has many benefits for both manager and team - if a manager does not
delegate there are several clear results that will ensue: the team will be largely idle,
inefficient, demoralised, stagnant and the manager will be overloaded.

Newly promoted managers are often loathe to delegate as they try to prove that they
can do their job, delegation being perceived as a form of weakness or an inability
to do their job, or that the feeling pervades that they are the best person for the job.

The act of delegating is a way of putting heads together, using more than one brain to
complete tasks and solve problems - it helps raise motivation in the team and gives a
manager an excellent view of the abilities in the team.

If we return to dictionary definitions - a manager is a person who manages people and
tasks - ensuring that the job gets done, not necessarily doing the job, otherwise they
would be called "doers".

One of the key aspects of managing is developing the skills of team members, whilst
ensuring that work is distributed evenly according to the skills and abilities available.There is sometimes a danger that a manager will create tensions in a team by

delegating to people whom they consider are trustworthy to execute tasks,

whilst not delegating to those they do not trust - the ideal is to be able to

develop members of the team by instilling trust.

There are risks involved, of course, but a manager should be able to evaluate the

risks alongside the gains of delegating as long as it is done logically, there should be

minimal risks, keeping in mind that certain tasks and authority will not be able to

be delegated.

Tasks that fall into this category will probably be recruitment, sacking or dismissals,

disciplinary issues, salary issues and regulations and general policy.

If you, as a manager, delegate a task to a team member, you will delegate the

authority to do the task but you will be ultimately responsible for the execution

of the task, on schedule and correctly.

It is a fairly straightforward process that many managers already do without

really thinking about it, we call it the STAR process:

1. Select the person for the task who has the necessary skills to carry out the task.

2. Ensure that the person you have selected has sufficient time to carry out the task,

not only the task in question, but also in view of their existing workload.

3. The person to who a task is delegated must be invested with sufficient authority

to carry out the task and it is important that others are aware of this too, especially

if they work in a transversal role or in project mode.

4. Responsibility for the completion of the task is ultimately the manager's.

However, the delegee needs to have a certain level of responsibility to the manager

for the completion of the task.

One of way of overcoming this is to be very clear that both credit and failure will be

shared by the manager and the team member.

Very often, credit is given to the manager, when things turn out well with little recognition

for the person who executed the task - this needs to be addressed in order that delegation

becomes a natural team phenomena.

When tasks have been delegated it is very important that communication becomes a two-way

process between delegator and delegee to ensure that tasks can be followed through their

duration and that contingency plans can be anticipated where necessary.

It is also important that delegation becomes part of the people development process,

feedback, planning, goal and action step setting are necessary to ensure that those that

are learning are helped to develop, whilst developing other members into roles where

they develop skills through delegation.

Basically the process involves the following:

WHAT - Determine the tasks that can be delegated.

WHEN - Clarify the results that you expect, along with the timescale for the completion of tasks.

HOW - Empower the team member to carry out the tasks in the way that they see most appropriate

- don't dictate How you want things doing, this will destroy all notion of autonomy that you

are trying to build.

WHERE - Define the boundaries of responsibility, ensuring that this is clearly understood

by the team member.

Set up communication channels and how you will feed back and touch base on the delegated tasks.

Communicate to others, especially if you are working in project or transverse roles, the scope and

range of the authority given to the team member accomplish the task.

Avoid reversals in delegation, where the team member re-delegates the tasks to others or attempts

to dump the delegation back on the manager.

If the manager takes tasks back, they could damage the confidence that was gained in the person

and provoke imbalance in the team, where relationships within the team and with management

could be damaged.

Delegation has numerous benefits, it is a two-way process that helps :

Develop team member skills

Implicate team members in the work of the company / department

Give managers time to network / benchmark with other managers

Improve relationships and confidence in the team

Share workloads more evenly

Evaluate the skills and competences in the team

Give learning opportunities to team members

If you want to have more quality time for yourself and for your team, whilst developing the

skills and the autonomy of your team - delegate now!

Developing Team Skills Through Delegation
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