Delegation - What Is It Good For? Absolutely Something At Work AND At Home
What if we buck the restrictive common way of thinking of delegation as a way for managers to dump (or assign) work to their staff? By expanding the idea just a bit, we might find that delegation is an extremely valuable method for sharing the load of work, helping people learn and develop and work more productively and efficiently as a team, at work and AT HOME. Is that weird or what?
The Essence of Delegation
If we remove the power aspect of traditional thinking about delegation (manager does something TO employee by assigning a task manager would normally do), what we have is the essence of delegation:
Delegation is a process by which we maximize time and efficiency by ensuring that those best able to carry out a task are the people carrying out the task.
This is completely consistent with the traditional method of management delegation. In fact delegation by managers is actually a subset of this broader view of delegation.
A Managerial Example (Or Delegating UP):
Mary is the director of a training department. She has several staff members (the people who deliver training to end users) reporting to her. Overall the department can only continue to exist provided it meets the needs of its internal customers -- other divisions. If the Vice-Presidents of those other divisions don't use Mary's training department, they will be disbanded, so clearly the VP's need to be lobbied, educated and helped to understand how the training department helps THEM.
VP's are notoriously snobbish (well, at this company, anyway) and prefer to meet with those close to their levels in the company. That means that it's not optimal for the trainers to visit the VP's for this task. In fact, the best person to visit with each VP is Mary's boss.
So, while it is technically Mary's job to arrange and attend those important meetings, should she do it? Probably not, or rather not alone. By delegating UPWARDS, provided her boss is amendable, a lot of time and grief can be saved. Our new delegation concept fits perfectly. Mary's boss is the best person to do this job.
Delegation At Home?
If we remove the power issue from our approach to delegation it fits on the home front too. Most people with children are familiar with the idea of "delegating" home tasks to their children -- for example mowing the grass or taking out the trash. That traditional method trades on the idea that Mom (or Dad) possesses power and control, and passes on some of his or her tasks to the kids.
Interestingly enough the assigning of tasks to children is done for many of the same reasons to do so at work: To teach, to develop skills on the part of the "delegated to", to reduce work load of the "power" person so he or she can do things only she can do.
In any event, one can also delegate (assign tasks) where equal "power" operates, from spouse to spouse. Doesn't it make sense for a spouse with the most skill at a task to do it? Even if it's usually the responsibility of the other? Doesn't it make sense for the spouse with the most free time on any given day to do a task if the other has less available time?
Of course it does.
Delegation As Cooperation
You've probably figured out that delegation, in this context, is really a form of cooperation, and stems from mutually shared desire to accomplish goals as a team. It's really about people working together to ensure that the "best" people in terms of skill or available time, or needing development, do tasks that make sense for them to do. Managers can assign all they want, but without the cooperation of employees, things don't get efficient. Likewise, as most parents know, without the cooperation of their family members, "delegation" doesn't work very well.
Finally Delegation/Cooperation Comes From Doing It Correctly
Now we come to the tricky part. How the tasks to delegate are chosen, and how well the communication amongst the people involved in this delegation process determine if a) cooperation ensues, and b) the process actually does result in greater efficiency.
We've developed material to help you delegate in such a way, either at work or at home, that the many advantages of delegation are achieved. It's not HARD to do, but most people don't think it through, or end up missing a few points, self-sabotaging the delegating of tasks. Here's what is contained in our Delegation For Managers Helpcard For Busylearners:
- What Is Delegation?
- The Power of Delegation - Why Do It? (The Payoffs)
- What Employees Need
- Delegation Step-By-Step
- Establishing Task Parameters and Expectations
- Follow-Through, Follow-Up and Feedback
- Delegation Pitfalls To Avoid
We guarantee that you can learn everything you need to delegate effectively in twenty minutes or less. And you can use the same techniques managers use to maximize the use of time at home and at work.