I keep seeing posts and discussions on delegation, so I thought I’d better post this again, so that people can keep this thing called “delegation” in its proper perspective.
Is the word “delegation” a dreaded word at your workplace? If you are a leader, do you know who, what, where, when and why to delegate? If you are a staff member, do you look forward to your leader delegating tasks, responsibilities, etc, to you? Is “delegation” at your workplace perceived positively or otherwise? Do you wish you were better at delegating, regardless of whether you are a leader or staff member?
Look up the meaning of the word “delegate” if you have not done so before. You will find the words “send”, “commit”, “representative”, “agent” and “deputy”, amongst others. In no place will you find “abdication of responsibility”. That is not a function of delegation. Yet, many people seem to perceive it that way when tasks, functions or responsibilities are delegated to them. Leaders become so affected by this perception that they shrink from delegating when they ought to. The end result is that employees or staff members miss opportunities for growth and leaders become bogged down and rendered ineffective
So, how do we delegate? Who, what, where, when and why? Let’s start with I, the Leader. I need to ask what it is I find necessary to delegate to someone else and why. Is what I am thinking of delegating even necessary in the first place, or is it just busywork? If it is just busywork, what caused this busywork, and should I, the Leader, even accept it? One of the functions of I, the Leader is being able to utter the two-letter word when appropriate. That word of course is “No”. I, the Leader will say “No” when the task or assignment would be detrimental to stakeholders all round. I, the Leader will not give in to scope creep even if the Board of Directors wants it that way. I, the Leader will not even give in to shareholder sentiments if I know that those sentiments are not appropriate. I, the Leader will not accept anything that results in a mere show just to pander to shareholder whims and fancies. What I, the Leader ought to do is assess whether taking on whatever task or function will enhance my own growth and effectiveness as a leader and whether any of my staff will benefit if I delegate the task or function to them. Delegation is not a standalone function. It is an essential part of staff development and maintaining high efficiency within the organization. It serves to stretch people in order to help them grow and maintains the “white space” so essential for the proper functioning of I, the Leader. Believe me, those of you who have yet to experience it, “supervision” is actually one of the hardest jobs anyone can be asked to do.
If you are a staff member, do you see tasks being delegated to you as irksome, or do you welcome them as opportunities to grow? If you are already loaded with more work than you can handle, truthfully now, are you able to say “No” to the one delegating the task to you? Would you be able to recommend that the task be assigned perhaps to one of your colleagues, and that colleague accept your recommendation willingly and without rancour?
A healthy sense of responsibility, great flexibility and rock-solid dependability are essential if delegation is to become deliberate and routine. It is one of the signs of a growing, vibrant organization. I would like to include a link to the story of “A message to Garcia” to finish this off.
So, delegate. And do so deliberately!
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