Guidelines for Delegation

As with most management techniques and interventions, there are guidelines and strategies that will help to assure a successful delegation process. Here are some that I have found to be most effective and important.

  • Define the task and clarify the goals. Confirm in your mind that the task is suitable to be delegated. Understand what you hope to achieve by delegation.
  • Select the individual. Be clear as to why you are selecting this person to perform the assignments. Make certain that he or she has the skills or can grow from the opportunity. Assess the person’s ability and provide the appropriate training and coaching, if necessary.
  • Explain the reasons for delegation and clarify relevant policies. You must explain to the person why the job is being delegated and why he or she has been selected. The person must also have context as to where the assignment fits into the overall scheme of things and be provided with any background data that is necessary.
  • Agree on the expected results and deadlines. Make sure that the individual understands what tasks he is expected to perform, what the expected outcome is, and by when the task must be completed. This will also assure that you have the individual’s buy-in. Such goals should always be linked to the company’s basic objectives of profitability, effectiveness, efficiency, customer satisfaction, community service, etc. Be explicit. For example, “When you report back, I’ll be expecting information on the costs of the project, how much manpower we’ll need, any obstacles you foresee, the sequence in which we will have to operate, and the milestones for each stage.”
  • Define authority and responsibility. The authority needed to get the job done should be commensurate with the responsibility. Make sure the individual knows whom to turn to if the demonstration of authority causes a problem.
  • Make sure the appropriate resources are available and limitations are set. Discuss and agree what resources are required to get the job done. Consider people, location, premises, equipment, money, materials, other related activities and services. Fix a top limit for expenditures and determine the limitations that may have to be imposed if you anticipate possible conflict with another department.
  • Check the lines of communication. Make sure that the delegate knows with whom he or she will have to interact and that all such people are committed to being available to him or her for giving and receiving needed information.
  • Institute controls. Establish reporting intervals with the delegated party so that progress can be discussed. Establish milestones that allow for spot-checking. Make certain the person understands what milestones and controls will be used.

    Setting up guidelines though is not enough, especially in the case of a permanent delegation. Delegation is never abdication. Contact must be maintained for the purposes not only of control, but also to give assistance, recognition and encouragement as necessary or desirable. To delegate responsibility is not like launching a ship and praying that it will make safe harbor; you have to serve as the lighthouse for all of your ships at sea.

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    One Comment on “Guidelines for Delegation”

    1. andreea Says:

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