An essential tool
If every person had sufficient time, energy and ability they could, quite possibly, do everything themselves. In such circumstances there would be little need for teams, for people to work together or to share workload. The need to delegate would not exist.
The typical manager, however, tends to be time-starved and overloaded with work, frequently lacking the knowledge or experience to perform every task equally well. As a result, delegation is an essential tool in the manager's toolkit, and one worth using in the best way possible.
Failure to delegate or failure to delegate effectively is costly – to you, your colleagues and, ultimately, your employer. There are both morale and productivity issues. It’s enough to make you cry unless, that is, you adopt the ‘onion’ approach which lies at the heart of the delegation process as described by Jon Warner in The Delegation Pocketbook.
The Onion Process
Think of your workload in layers, like those of an onion: tasks at the core need to be retained and more personal control exercised; those in the outer layers can be delegated, the more so the further from the core.
To delegate effectively you need to understand your own attitude to delegation (a questionnaire in the pocketbook will help you here), what you can delegate and why you should do so (beware the wrong reasons!), who to delegate to, how to prepare properly and what briefing style to adopt – controlling, tentative, participative or collaborative. The author recommends aiming for the latter style, collaborative, which is achievable using the principles outlined in his book.
There is advice too on setting goals/milestones, using controls to minimise risk, how to monitor the process, warning signs to look out for and how to react, and maintaining responsibility and accountability. Recognising the contribution made by others and learning from the experience are also covered.
The Four Delegation Styles
How well do you delegate and what style do you adopt:
This pocketbook looks at the what, when and how of delegation – an insightful and practical overview.
Illustrated by Phil Hailstone.