Effective delegation skills prerequisite to rise in leadership roles

Micromanagement may be the reason you are stuck lower managerial positions no matter how capable and efficient you think you are

Bhavna Dalal
Published: 03, May 2018

Bhavna Dalal ( www.bhavnadalal.com) is the Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners [www.talentpowerpartners.com] a Leadership Development company based in Bangalore, India. She is a Team Leadership Coach with ICF PCC Certification, IIM Calcutta Executive MBA, and B.E.(Electronics). Also, the author of the book Team Decision Making [https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01MXF5QEM] endorsed by former CEO's of Target, Lowes, LimitedBrands,bank of Baroda, 3M , Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Dr. Manoj Pardasani (Associate Dean Fordham University) and many others. Bhavna has been serving on the Board of Directors of Bodhi Education Society (A not-for-profit that supports schools in rural Andhra Pradesh in India ) for the past 5 years.

Image: Shutterstock
When Delegating, it is important that we give our team members a say in how the desired results will be achieved Image: Shutterstock

As young managers move towards senior leadership roles, there is one area they just have to get good at and master: Delegation. There are just no two ways about it. Unless you identify with yourself as a good delegator, you may be stuck in lower managerial positions no matter how capable and awesome you think you are. Of course, there could be several factors contributing to that. I would like to throw light on one of them -- Delegation.

Let us first understand what delegation exactly means? According to Wikipedia, delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities. This does not mean that the person who delegated the work becomes free of responsibility. They continue to remain accountable for the outcome of the delegated tasks.

What is not delegation?
Delegation does not mean dumping responsibility on another person. It is not offloading things that you don’t feel like doing. It is also not seeking help to finish things at the last minute.

When delegating, it is important that we give our team members a say in how the desired results will be achieved. This helps create buy-in and satisfy some of their individual needs such as autonomy, achievement and participation. The thought of delegating can bring about a range of feelings, from anxiety, nervousness to fear.

People risk becoming micro-managers while delegating. This may very easily happen if you provide too much input, direction, and review of delegated work. Micromanagement is the fastest way to demotivate team members and squander their innovation and satisfaction. Poor delegation can cause frustration and confusion to all the parties involved.

Benefits of Effective Delegation

For you

♦ Increased available time for more strategic thinking and development opportunities
♦ You can accomplish more of what you are specifically responsible for
♦ In your absence, the work will continue getting done
♦ Your reputation as a trusting manager will improve
♦ You will be perceived as someone who invests in motivating, building skills and development of the team
♦ Your own career progression will be enhanced
♦ It should improve your own work-life balance
♦ Frees up time to focus on an area of interest where you want to learn or grow
♦ Definitely puts you on improved leadership track

For Team

♦ Delegation empowers your team members to make decisions i.e. there is a shift of decision-making authority from one organisational level to a different one
♦ It improves skill development of the entire team
♦ If done well, it increases trust in the team. This trust increases loyalty, motivation and job satisfaction as people start seeing career growth opportunities
♦ In those cases where mundane and routine tasks are delegated, it is a good opportunity for leaders to have the bigger picture conversations.

For Organisation

♦ Helps increase productivity within the organisation
♦ Ensures leadership development is on track
♦ There is greater continuity through smoother succession planning and less chances of silos within roles

Barriers to Delegation

Some of the common barriers to delegation are:

♦ People believe they can do tasks better themselves. This makes them resistant internally to delegate and really lean towards doing it themselves
♦ Due to past experiences, there may be sense of distrust in their team members. A feeling that no one is as good at it as I am
♦ There is a belief that I don’t have time to spend getting someone else up-to-speed, it is faster to do it myself.
♦ I really enjoy doing this task
♦ I don’t want to lose my value by asking someone else to do it. I am so good at it.
♦ Don’t understand the benefits of delegating completely
♦ Worry about being blamed if the task is not done well
♦ Ambiguity on who gets the credit for the success
♦ Strong belief that it you want something done well, do it yourself

The Delegation Process

Here is a quick and easy way to remember the steps for effective delegation. Making the word delegation an acronymn, you can have the steps on your fingertips for quick reference.
D ⇒ Decide the tasks and challenges you can delegate to others

E ⇒ Examine and address your own barriers to delegating

L ⇒ List all the people you feel are ready to take on these tasks/ responsibilities

E ⇒ Explain how you are going to delegate, who you will delegate to, what you will delegate, and what resources they have for the task

G ⇒ Give feedback or feed-forward don’t just set the task and walk away

A ⇒  Announce to all the stakeholders details concerning the delegation

T ⇒ Take time to check in on the progress

I ⇒ Invite feedback from everyone involved not just the person who has the task

O ⇒  Organise the plan for review

N ⇒ Now do it all over again

When managers can identify the benefits of delegation for the organisation, the team, and for themselves, they will be much closer to a successful and smooth delegation process. This will be a key factor in taking them to the next level in their careers.

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