You will not be an effective manager unless you learn how to delegate. The question, "Should I be handling this?" must be asked frequently if you are to develop your associates, build a strong team, and avoid being swamped.
Delegation does, however, have its ground rules. Here are 10:
- Don't delegate any task, such as termination of a direct report, which requires your personal involvement.
- Clarify which decisions are exclusively yours, which are exclusively the employee's, and which should be jointly examined.
- Don't delegate responsibility without authority. Give appropriate amounts of power.
- Make sure the person has sufficient resources and ready access to those resources. For example, requiring a subordinate to get your approval every time the company lawyer needs to be consulted may waste time and discourage the seeking of needed legal advice.
- Discuss the priorities of the assignment. Don't assume that they are clear.
- Let others know of the delegation and block those who may try to subvert the arrangement by going directly to you.
- Give the employee any necessary training. That will strengthen the person's abilities while signaling that a high level of performance is expected.
- When describing the desired results, tell the person what you don't want as well as what you want. Learning what is undesirable can be enormously helpful.
- Talk about where the organization should be once the goals are accomplished and discuss what future challenges should be expected.
- Don't dismiss any attention to detail as micromanaging. Certain details may require your touch, but as the employee gains confidence and expertise, your involvement should decline. You are building an employee and a system.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.