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How to Delegate Responsibility


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1) What does it mean to delegate responsibility?
Correct delegation is a key to outstanding productivity which can be attained only in a team, with a help of collaboration that enables us to produce much more than when working alone. A supervisor can try very hard, but his or her capabilities are not unlimited yet, and whatever occurs on his or her agenda, he or she needs to have someone whom the current load of responsibilities can be reliably shared with, so no tasks can be delayed or postponed. In other words delegation of responsibilities is a sure way to the common success through sharing personal workloads.   

The most popular reasons for managers to ignore delegating:

  • I can do this work better myself (I need immediate control).
  • I’m the only one qualified enough to accomplish this job right (I don’t trust my employees).
  • Everyone else already has a lot of work to do (not sure if they can cope with it).
  • I can do this work faster than others (employees still need a lot of coaching and guidance).
  • This work is too important! (I am afraid to be outshined by my own employees!).

The most popular reasons for managers to delegate responsibility:

  • More of spare business time can be won for planning, learning and resolving important issues;
  • Employees become more experienced (one of an effective supervisor’s roles is to be a coach for employees), so the manager will not be afraid of delegating a similar job the next time;
  • More knowledge about his or her employees can be obtained (the manager learns what work the employees are capable of, and what skills they still need to be improved);
  • The stressful workload of tasks can be reduced, so no problem of task saturation occurs;

Delegating responsibility is not about:

  • Delegating only the “dirty work” which nobody wants to do (to prevent employee demotivation you need to delegate something interesting and professionally developmental).
  • Leaving all the drudgery to be completed yourself (the real sense of delegating is to lighten your work, so you need to allocate the hard work equally and fairly among the teammates, leaving a portion to yourself as well).
  • Making people work instead of you (you shouldn’t delegate your duties to somebody else while you are going to have some entertainment or personal time, such as web-surfing for personal needs, having personal calls or other activities peculiar to free time).

2) Actions to delegate responsibility:

  1. Decide whether you really need to delegate a task, as some things should not be delegated:
    • A work which you are appointed to because of your unique expertise and talents;
    • A confidential work that you need to be careful about (certain level of authority is required);
  2. Consider your attitude to the task through answering these questions:
    • Do I really need to perform all this work myself, whether it is just about my passion to keep everything under control?
    • Does this work really needs my attention and level of qualification, whether I just can’t fully rely upon my employees (probably my involvement can be limited only by guidance)?
    • Do I really have enough of time to do all this work myself, or can I increase my productivity by asking someone to assist me?
    • Do I have some pending managerial issues which I would handle rather instead of this task?
  3. Find the right person (delegate) to suit the work:
    • Consider skills and background knowledge of a candidate;
    • Consider how quickly your future assistant can learn;
    • Consider his or her current workloads and their level of importance;
  4. Brief the delegate on the task you are giving to him or her:
    • Guide him or her on postponing the current tasks, so he can be focused on the delegation;
    • Explain him exactly what he or she is responsible for;
    • Explain a place of this task in a greater picture of your work;
    • Brief on the due date and other essentials of the task;
  5. Encourage your delegate to act self-dependently:
    • Make sure he or she understands what kind of results you expect;
    • Provide him or her with all the necessary information and guidelines;
    • Explain your delegate the areas where he or she can work self-dependently and where it is desirable to get your attention;
    • State that you are always willingly open for questions and consultations;
  6. Make your instructions clear as possible and minimize your intrusion into work:
    • Don’t micromanage and don’t force employee to use some methods that doesn’t suit his or her own skills, vision and style of work;
    • Avoid giving directives and solving all problems instead of your delegate, but rather point out some possible solutions and support them with your competent advice and suggestions;
    • Consult your delegate on some problems which may arise on the task and ask how he or she would address them;
  7. Be available to questions and coaching. Periodically check the work and provide the feedback;
  8. Recognize and appreciate the efforts of your delegate;

3) A simple way to delegate responsibility with VIP Task Manager:

VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the managers to delegate responsibility to their employees in terms of particular tasks. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to delegate responsibility using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Permissions;
  • Task Tree mode;
  • Task List mode;

Task Tree mode actions (define tasks to be delegated):

  • Define an employee whom you would like to delegate a task to;
  • Point a task to be delegated or create a new task;
  • Assign the task to the selected employee (your delegate);
  • Adjust Permissions at “Permissions Panel” to allow your delegate “View” and “Edit” the task;
  • Make sure your delegate can see the task;
  • Set Start and Finish dates, and other attributes of the task if required;
  • Add some explanations into Notes section of the task;
  • Use “Attachments” to add some links to any work-related documents;

Task List mode actions (review the delegated task):

  • Filter your tasks by Assignment (select your assistant);
  • Group and sort tasks by their attributes as appropriate;
  • Check the task status and other updates;
  • Check the time left before the Finish date;
  • Add feedbacks to the task (“Comments” panel);

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