When thinking about delegation it helps to consider it as more than dividing up the work and distributing it to others. Delegation is a process that involves careful thought and planning. It also involves helping others grow and develop.
Delegation fits into the following categories:
- Recurring matters--tasks that happen regularly and do not change in the way they are done.
- Minor decision-making--tasks that do not require debate or discussion.
- Time consuming details--tasks that require many routine details.
- What others are better qualified to do--tasks that can be better performed by others with those skills.
Deciding how to delegate can be frustrating. The following process will help:
- Set a clear objective or statement of task. Be certain you know what it is you want the other person to do.
- Select the person delegated for the task. For office assistants this may appear to be limited. However, any office coworker or volunteer could be a potential possibility depending on the task.
- Train the person delegated on all or part of what you are delegating. Be certain that person knows how to perform the task.
- Get input from the person delegated. Ask that person for ideas on what needs to be accomplished.
- Assign the project or task with a specific deadline.
- Provide necessary guidance.
- Share in advance any critical data the person delegated should know.
- Suggest several approaches and make it clear you are only suggesting.
- Describe the results required or set standards.
- Make a contract. Assign responsibility and appropriate authority. Determine the appropriate level of authority:
- Level I - Take action without reporting back.
- Level II - Take action and stay in touch. (Be certain you decide who is responsible for staying in touch.
- Level III - Get approval before moving on
- Level IV - Do only what I tell you to do.
- Establish controls.
- Maintain controls.
- Provide feedback on how the task was completed.
- Identify the lessons learned.
- Evaluate the performance.
Different people handle delegation differently. For instance, people who are direct, goal oriented, and want tight control of things give the person delegated responsibility for the task and hold him or her accountable. However, this type of person, a driver, has difficulty giving up authority. The driver may have to work at giving up authority and wanting to control the way the task is accomplished.
Analytical people, those who like details, hate to be wrong, and tend to over explain things and do not easily give up responsibility. They tend to want to do everything. However, if they do give responsibility it will include the authority and they will hold the person delegated accountable, including responsibility for all the details.
Expressive and amiable people are more people oriented. They tend to give responsibility and authority, but fail to hold the person delegated accountable. These types of people confuse holding someone accountable with being liked. Expressives and amiables should focus more on being respected and less on being liked. This will result in less guilt for the delegator.
Office assistants may find there is more they can delegate to coworkers and volunteers if they use the process of effective delegation and understand how delegation impacts their personality.