Created by Katrin Aust

#favouritemodel No. 31 - The ART of delegation

One of the main reasons to delegate tasks is "To set people up for success", i.e. to empower employees. The focus here is on learning. Of course, there are many other motives for delegating, e.g. the other person can do it better, has more fun with the task or simply has more time to take care of it.

On the other hand, every day I find reasons not to delegate. A "clean" delegation means an investment of time, especially if I hand over the task in a dialog. Often I supposedly don't have this time, I have just "done the task quickly myself", I particularly like to do exactly this task or I simply lack trust in my counterpart. However, this is exactly where the art of delegation, "The ART of delegation" becomes effective.

Delegating something means handing over three additional things besides the task itself:

I. Authority
When I delegate a task to my counterpart, it is important that this represents an official step. Perhaps the person needs support or information from a third party. In order for him or her to remain capable of acting here, it is not only necessary that authority has been delegated to him or her, but also that this has been communicated to all other parties involved.

II. Responsibility
In order to work on a task in a solution-oriented way, the freedom to decide which way he or she wants to go and which steps are the right ones and when is of great importance. It is important that he or she bears the responsibility for the process of working out as well as for the result of the task. At the same time, this does NOT relieve me as the delegator from bearing overall responsibility (accountability) if, for example, something goes wrong.

III. Trust
Handing over a task that is actually on my desk, paired with the authority and responsibility requires trust. Trust in the other person, trust in the abilities and trust in the reliability of the other person. I put the process and possible outcome in other hands, but if necessary, will have to take the blame  if something doesn't work out.

How does my #favouritemodel help you?

The enticement to "just throw a task over the fence" or "just stick your head in the door" and hand over a task with two sentences seems great in a first impulse and in view of your own time constraints. From my point of view, however, it is not only sensible and helpful to delegate, it is even the duty of a manager to ensure that employees learn and develop. The often mentioned challenge or hurdle of investing time is also a "trap". After all, the less I delegate, the less I can actually hand over in an emergency, and the less my employees are well positioned for their own success.

My clear recommendation is therefore: actually take the time, sit down with your employees and talk through the task to be delegated explicitly together: By when should it be completed, what already exists for it, who else can support and answer questions, and what exactly should the result look like?

In the end, it's a great feeling to have one less task on your own desk and at the same time more motivated, empowered employees in the team.


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