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Jesse Lyn Stoner

Risk Management

How to Delegate Effectively and Minimize the Risk

Share the load for increased efficiencies

Published: Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 13:57

Delegating is often one of the hardest things for a manager to do. You give away your authority to make decisions but are still responsible for the outcome if something goes wrong.

Often managers don’t delegate because they hold one or more of these beliefs. Do any sound familiar?

“If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself.”
“They don’t know how, and it’s not my job to train them.”
“They don’t want extra responsibilities.”
“They’ve already got too much to do.”
“It’s my job to do the thinking. It’s their job to do the work.”
“They will get the recognition instead of me.”
“If they do too much, I might be seen as dispensable.”
“If they do it wrong, it will reflect badly on me.”
“They might make mistakes that will harm the company.”

Does it seem like the risk is too great?

12 reasons delegating is worth the risk

1. You can manage your time better and increase your efficiency.
2. You will stop being inundated with irrelevant details.
3. You get out of the mode of going from crisis to crisis.
4. You have more time to think strategically and plan for the future.
5. You have more time to concentrate on the work that is really important.
6. Your team has an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge and increase its effectiveness.
7. You improve the quality of decisions because they are being made by those who have the most information and are closest to the situation.
8. You are seen as more effective because your team is more effective.
9. You show your team members that you have trust and confidence in them, which positively affects their attitudes, interpersonal relationships, and performance.
10. You increase their commitment to the task, to the team, and to the company.
11. You create a pool of talent that can take over whenever needed.
12. You are more likely to be promoted because it will be easier to fill your position.

Ready to delegate? Here’s how to minimize the risk.

Guidelines to determine what to delegate

First, have a discussion with your direct reports and gather their perspective on their skills, interests, and current workload. Allow them to have a say in determining what and when tasks are delegated to them.

Next, support their development by delegating activities that might be part of their future responsibilities. Don’t delegate performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, confidential tasks, tasks specifically assigned to you, and sensitive situations.

Finally, delegate to the lowest level at which the task can be successfully accomplished. Don’t bypass your direct report, but give her the authority to delegate the task.

Steps to delegate effectively

1. Ensure expectations are clear. Be specific, clear, and complete about the task, goals, responsibilities, constraints, what a good job looks like, and how performance will be evaluated. Clarify at the beginning the amount and type of supervision you will provide and how the progress will be monitored.

2. Grant authority. Grant the authority needed to do the job. Let all who will be affected know about the delegation.

3. Provide needed support and resources. Provide all information that is available and relevant; pass on other information as it becomes available. Give public credit when they succeed, but deal with mistakes discretely.

4. Get out of the way. Don’t interfere or take the delegation back unless it’s clear that corrective action is necessary. Don’t supervise too closely. “Post-delegation hovering” is demoralizing and will interfere with your direct report’s commitment and effectiveness.

5. Don’t accept “upward delegation.” Make it a policy that if someone brings a problem to you, they must also bring proposed solutions. Don’t become the person who solves everyone’s problems, or you will end up taking on everyone’s work.

6. Maintain accountability. It should be clear that your direct report has the responsibility for seeing the job well done. Remember, however, that the ultimate accountability remains with you.

7. Delegate consistently. Make delegation a regular practice, not just when you’re overloaded or when tasks are unpleasant.

First published June 3, 2015, on Jesse Lyn Stoner’s Blog. © 2015 Jesse Stoner.


About The Author

Jesse Lyn Stoner’s picture

Jesse Lyn Stoner

Jesse Lyn Stoner, founder of consultancy Seapoint Center, has worked with hundreds of leaders using collaborative processes to engage the entire workforce in creating their desired future. Stoner has authored several books including Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2nd rev. ed. 2011), co-authored with Ken Blanchard. Stoner is recognized by the American Management Association as one of the Top Leaders to Watch in 2015 and by INC Magazine as one of the Top 100 Leadership Experts. Stoner has advanced degrees in psychology and family system, and a doctorate in organizational development.