Thinking of Delegating Work? Here is a Solution.

It is impossible for a leader to perform all the work needed to carry out an organization’s mission, so work and the responsibility to carry it out must be delegated to others.

Delegation involves the assignment of work to other people, and it is an activity inherently associated with all leadership positions.

In fact, lack of courage to delegate properly, and of knowledge of how to do it, is one of the most general causes of failures in organization.

Advantages of Delegating:

It obviously helps managers accomplish more work than they could accomplish otherwise and can be used as a time-management toll to free up discretionary time. 

Advantage Explanation

  • Time Increases the discretionary time of the manager
  • Development Develops knowledge and capabilities of delegates
  • Trust Demonstrates trust and confidence in delegates
  • Commitment Enhances commitment of delegates
  • Information Improves decision making with better information
  • Efficiency Enhances efficiency and timeliness of decisions
  • Coordination Fosters work integration by manager coordination

Empowered delegation can help subordinates’ capabilities and knowledge so that their effectiveness is increased. It can be a technique to encourage personal mastery experiences. 

Delegation also can be used to demonstrate trust and confidence in the person receiving the assignment. Empowered delegation can be used to enhance commitment of individuals receiving work. 

Finally, empowered delegation can increase the coordination and integration of work by funneling information and final accountability through a single source. 

On the other hand, when delegation is ineffectively performed, several negative consequences can result. For example, ineffective delegation may require even more time to supervise, evaluate, correct, and arbitrate disagreements among employees. Employees may find themselves spending a longer time to accomplish a task because of lack of know-how, experience, or information. Stress levels and interpersonal conflict may increase when tasks, accountability, or expectations are unclear.

Leaders may find themselves out of touch with what is really going on with employees, may lose control, and may find goals being pursued that are incompatible with the rest of the organization. Chaos, rather than coordination, can result.

Deciding When to Delegate:

Empowered delegating involves deciding, first of all, when to delegate tasks to others and when to perform them oneself. When should subordinates be assigned to design and perform work or make decision? To determine when delegation is most appropriate, managers should ask five basic questions:

  1. Do subordinates have the necessary (or superior) information or expertise?
  2. Is the commitment of subordinates critical to successful implementation?
  3. Will subordinates’ capabilities be expanded by this assignment?
  4. Do subordinates share with management and each other common values and perspectives?
  5. Is there sufficient time to do an effective job of delegating?

Empowering delegation depends on a positive answer to each of the preceding questions. If any of these conditions is not present when delegation is being considered, the probability is greater that it will not be effective. 

Deciding To Whom to Delegate:

Having decided to delegate a task, leaders must then consider whether to involve only a single individual or a team of subordinates. If the decision is made to form a team, it is also important to decide how much authority to give the members of the team. 

Deciding How to Delegate Effectively:

When a decision is made to delegate a task, and the appropriate recipients of the delegation are identified, empowered delegation shall just begin. 

Empowered delegation also can be used to improve the quality of decision making by bringing to bear more information, closer to the source of the problem, than the leader has alone. Delegating tasks to those who have direct access to relevant information can enhance efficiency as well as effectiveness.

Positive outcomes of empowered delegation are contingent upon leaders following 15 proven principles throughout the process.

  1. Begin with the end in mind.
  2. Delegate completely.
  3. Wait to be told what to do.
  4. Ask what to do.
  5. Recommend, then take action.
  6. Act, then report results immediately.
  7. Initiate action, and report only routinely.
  8. Allow participants in the delegation of assignments.
  9. Establish parity between authority and responsibility.
  10. Work within the organizational structure.
  11. Provide adequate support for delegated tasks.
  12. Focus accountability on results.
  13. Delegate consistently.
  14. Avoid upward delegation.
  15. Clarify consequences.

The author works as Leadership Coach, and helps senior management executives to be effective leader. He can be reached at

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