This is a second blog in the delegation series. In the last blog, I spoke about the barriers to delegation and overcoming them. Here, I speak about preparing to delegate.
Delegation requires preparation and lack of preparation can lead to failed delegated assignments and loss of confidence for both the manager as well as the employee. There are some critical questions that need to be answered while preparing to delegate.
Question 1 – Why am I delegating?
Identify your purpose for delegation- is it to decrease your workload or to encourage staff members to build new skills or to launch a new product or to give your staff visibility and recognition?
This is critical as it helps assess later whether you have achieved your purpose once the assignment is completed.
Question 2 – What am I delegating? (and what am I not!)
Depending on your purpose for delegation, you may choose to delegate certain tasks or projects. Factors which you should consider while delegating are
- Importance of the task
- Urgency of delivering the task
- Complexity of the task
If the task is too important and you are running short of time, it might not be a good idea to delegate it. If a task is too complex, consider a way to divide it into smaller tasks and delegate parts of the task.
Typically, its not a good idea to delegate tasks such as planning, motivating your team, evaluating other employees, handling complex customer negotiations, hiring and firing of employees etc.
Question 3 – Who should I delegate to?
All efforts at delegation can fall flat if the task is delegated to the wrong person. Hence, this question is extremely critical.
- The first ask is to identify the skills needed to complete the task satisfactorily – what technical skills, thinking skills and inter-personal skills are needed to complete the task? Then identify the employee who has the right skill set.
- Also evaluate the willingness of the employee to complete that task. Has he expressed a need for job variety or growth?
- Thirdly, evaluate the availability of the employee – it is important to not over burden an employee as this may lead to efficiency loss.
- Consider his past record – how enthusiastically and satisfactorily did he complete previously delegated tasks?
- Finally, is it possible to divide the task amongst two or more employees to make best use of their skills?
The third step to effective delegation is the ‘how’ of it. This I will address in the last blog of the series.