Increase your effectiveness by working through others

Increase your effectiveness by working through others

Delegation is one of the skills that a leader should have if he has to be effective. Andrew Carnegie an American businessman, who by 1902, was the richest man in the world knew the importance of delegation and he said: “No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.”
His sentiments were echoed by one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, Richard Branson when he said: “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.”
As a leader, you can’t do everything on your own, otherwise you will not be effective. You have to learn to let go.
Derek Stockley defined delegation as “The assignment of responsibility and accountability for specific outcomes or achievements to a specific individual or organisation unit. The delegation can be temporary or permanent.”

When you delegate you don’t tell people what to do but you explain to them the outcomes and results they are expected to achieve. They have to work out how they will achieve the outcomes.
The leader or manager who delegates still gets involved in what the subordinate is doing albeit at varying levels depending on the existing knowledge and skill levels of the employee receiving the delegation. The manager’s involvement will be minimal if the employee is very experienced.
However if the employee is inexperienced, the manager might have to provide more support and guidance. In both cases, the person receiving the delegation decides what has to be done to achieve the desired outcome.

Delegation requires the leader to have trust in his subordinate. This trust in the subordinate motivates employees because they feel they are more involved and engaged and also that they are being trusted with more important responsibilities or activities.

Delegating can be difficult especially for new managers. Usually, those managers who don’t want to delegate do so because they are afraid of losing control of the situation. They also feel they can do the job better themselves.  To effectively delegate, one needs to ensure that you choose the right person with the skills and capabilities required for the job. If the person does not have the skills, then make sure that the person is trained and is also well equipped or resourced. The person should also have the time to take on the extra responsibility.

Delegate the job early rather than wait until there is an emergency so that you don’t put undue pressure on the person. Allow the person to plan his task carefully. If possible delegate the task to one person to ensure that there is no ambiguity in accountability and responsibility.
Clarity of responsibility is very important because it motivates whoever is doing the job because he knows he is totally responsible for the job.

When you delegate, make it a point that you communicate the rationale and benefit of the job one is doing. One should be able to see how what he is doing contributes to the overall corporate objectives. He needs to know the corporate goals and how his job fits into the bigger picture. He also needs to know how it will benefit him; whether it will lead to promotion or he will get remunerated for it.

It’s very important that you set very clear goals and expectations and that you check with the subordinate if he has understood what needs to be done and the deadline for  the expected outcomes. It’s not good to be vague in your instructions and expectations.
Ensure you provide the necessary support and guidance. Be available and willing to assist when the need arises. You need to take personal interest in the progress of a delegated task but avoid being intrusive because the subordinate might think that you do not trust them.

Many delegated tasks fail because there is no follow through with the subordinate. You need to keep the lines of communication open, have regular meetings on the job or project to ensure there is regular feedback. If the performance of the subordinate is not satisfactory it is advisable that you don’t immediately take the responsibility back to yourself.
You need to continue providing the required guidance and training to ensure successful completion of the task. In this way, delegation will also serve as a means to develop your staff. Quickly acknowledge good performance so that you keep the subordinate motivated.

Effective delegation should therefore allow the subordinate to learn, grow and be more capable in performing bigger tasks.
Delegating ensures that more tasks get done in less time and the manager can then concentrate on more strategic issues. Effective delegation helps to build team capacity.
Managers should pay attention to the above factors that make for effective delegation!

About the author         
Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans, tender documents and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations. For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts:, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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