Advantages and Disadvantages of Delegation

Many managers find themselves getting bogged down in routine operational tasks, which leave them no time for the vital managerial functions like long term planning and business development.

Delegation involves giving someone else the responsibility to perform a task that is actually part of your own job. Delegation is not as straightforward as it might first appear. It always carries with it an element of risk, since you are assigning to someone else work for which you retain the ultimate responsibility.

One of the most important reasons for delegation is that it will develop the skills of the people who work for you. People in your team will become more involved in helping to achieve the organizations objectives and goals.

Increased responsibility is an important factor in improving morale and job satisfaction. It is noticeable that managers who delegate successfully usually experience lower absenteeism and staff turnover.

Once you have delegated a piece of work using the guidelines above, it is vital that you not only monitor progress, but also provide regular feedback to the team member. This is particularly important in the first few days as team members often feel uncomfortable asking for guidance once they have been delegated the task, assuming that it will reflect badly on them if they are seen to not understand the task or to be slow in their progress.

This can cause unnecessary anxiety if, as is often the case, they are unsure exactly how to proceed once they examine the task in detail. This usually happens when it becomes clear that there are several options available or when they become aware of an unforeseen problem.

By employing the strategy of openness you will be able to reassure them during this anxious period and give the necessary support to bolster their decision-making skills.

The trick is to provide feedback without being seen to interfere unnecessarily or to show any impatience if the team member is confused by something that you think should be clear.

By offering constructive feedback, you help to guide the person with the necessary decisions so that they truly begin to own the task delegated to them.

The important aspect is that feedback is given whilst there is still time to act upon it. You must ensure that your feedback is continuous and provides opportunities for an open exchange of information without judgment.

Feedback is also a major contributor to motivation and empowers people by enabling them to build upon their successes and lets them know that their efforts are appreciated. This should improve their performance and enable them to keep their problems and concerns in perspective.

Reviewing the Delegation Process
Once the task has been completed then the team member should be thanked for their efforts and receive the recognition promised to them.

It is essential that you reflect on how well the process went and review the decisions that you made throughout the process. This review should also include feedback from the team or teams involved, as well as the individual you delegated the task to.

By listening to this feedback you will be able to determine the quality of your own decisions. It is important that you ask yourself the following questions:

Reviewing the delegation process

Did you select the right person for the job?
By selecting the individual you did to perform the task, you will now have a clearer picture of whether or not they have the competencies and behaviors required. It may be that you misjudged the abilities of the team member and had not expected them to perform in the way they did. This highlights an area or several areas in which the person requires additional training.

As part of the delegation process it also gives you the opportunity to review this individual's performance compared to that of other team members. This provides you with an opportunity to review your teams competencies and KSAs and may influence your decision regarding the next person you delegate a task to.

Did you provide a clear goal?
Once the task is complete you will have the chance to review how well your instructions and brief were understood. Through the feedback processes, you will be able to ascertain if there were any significant omissions or unnecessary detail in certain areas. You can find information on goal setting on this website.

If this is the case it could be as a result of the objective not being stated clearly enough. You can then reflect on how best to avoid such problems in the future and if necessary seek advice from your seniors or colleagues.

Did you give them sufficient freedom to complete the task in their preferred way?
Finding out whether you achieved the right balance between being supportive and interfering is not easy. Most team members will be reluctant to imply any criticism of you, and you should take note of any hesitation in answering questions, in their body language, and other non-verbal signs that indicate that you need to interfere less in future.

Was the deadline realistic?
Setting deadlines is always difficult, as you need to consider so many factors including the team member's skill level, their other commitments and external influences or constraints.

Often a deadline can be imposed by the very nature of the task, for example an exhibition, where you have no control over when it is, only how or what you do before the event. In such situations it may mean that insufficient notice was the major issue in completing the task.

If this is the case, it also provides an opportunity for you to test the abilities and skills of your team. Your brief will need to inform them from the outset that corners need to be cut and that they are required to select how best to do this. As part of your feedback you will be able to support them through this thought process and ensure the task is successfully accomplished.

Did they have the necessary resources?
Check that you provided the necessary resources in a reasonable timeframe, as it is very frustrating for team members to be left waiting for things they need to progress with the job.

It may also highlight certain 'bottlenecks' within your organization, which you need to address as a separate issue. This could be something as simple as the length of time required to process an order, or insufficient budget being allocated to the project, or it took too long for the task budget to be approved, therefore delaying its commencement.

Delegation issues

Issues with externally provided resources may also be highlighted and may be a result of:

• Resource issues of the suppliers.
• Using an incompetent supplier.
• Poor communications between the parties.
• Insufficient budget for the task.

Once again, be aware that they may be reluctant to criticize you directly, but encouraging open communications from the start will help identify resources issues in a timely manner.

Did they have sufficient support from you?
You can ascertain how well you performed this role by asking some simples questions:

  • Did you schedule sufficient time to support the team member?
  • Did you brief the team member on the importance of seeking advice as and when they needed it?

You should remember that some people are reluctant to ask for help because they feel that this shows a lack of ability. If this is the case, despite your frequent reviews, then you will need to address the assertiveness of the individual and discuss with them if they really want this type of additional responsibility.

These questions should answer whether or not your expectations were realistic. Evaluating the outcome of delegation in this way will enable you to make better judgments in the future.

As a manager, much of your success will depend on being able to delegate as effectively as possible. Delegation is a skill that you can improve if you take the time to analyze your own performance.

The important thing is to encourage openness and constructive criticism, which you then act on appropriately.

You may also be interested in:
Delegation of Authority | Principles of Delegation | The Six Stages of Delegation | Delegation in Management | Monitoring Delegated Tasks.

Key Points

  • Feedback improves performance and enables people to keep their problems and concerns in perspective.
  • Provide regular feedback to the team member, particularly in the early stages.
  • Give feedback while there is still time to act upon it.
  • Solicit feedback from the team member when the task is complete.
  • Evaluating the outcome of delegation in this way will enable you to make better judgments in the future.
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