In the 21st century, in order to excel at what you do, you need to work smart. One of the ways you can do this is by using delegation to ensure that what you want to achieve gets done. Delegation is good because it allows you to assign areas of work that are not necessarily your core competence and then maintain your focus on areas where you are good at.
The art of delegation usually involves two parties; the delegator who gives authority to another party, who is the delegatee to accomplish a task(s).
Very unfortunately, most people fail to make use of this productivity tool because they think they are the ones who know exactly what they want and how it should be done. Such people often end up feeling exhausted and unproductive as they tend to find themselves caught up in small tasks which steal the time they could use to accomplish other tasks that are more important and can move the needle in their work.
The Art Of Delegation
Delegation is an art that has been used over time and maybe said to have its roots in biblical times. In Exodus 18: 17 -23 we read that Moses who was leading the Israelites into the promised land found himself in a predicament. He was serving as the sole judge and inevitably this was tiring not just himself but the people he was serving as well. The people had to wait a long time before their disputes were heard. His father in law Jethro advised him to select and empower capable men who would be in charge of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Moses would then remain with the responsibility to teaching the Israelites about the laws of God and hearing the difficult cases. Moses took up the advise and what resulted was a win-win situation for all concerned parties.
From this story what is clear is that the art of delegation allows us to make the best use of our time and skills. It also empowers other people and allows them to grow and reach their full potential.
Each of us has our “must do’s, should do’s and cannot do’s”. Delegation allows us to let other people take care of the last two while we focus on the must do’s to ensure we are effective.
Types Of Delegation
According to Stephen covey, there are essentially two types of delegation:
- Gofer delegation where we focus on the methods to be used to do the task as opposed to the results. With gofer delegation you give up the task but remain dictating how it has to be done.
Stewardship delegation on the other hand focuses on the results as opposed to methods. Here you give the delegatee a choice of method and allow them to be responsible for the results.
A lot has been written about how to delegate effectively from what questions to begin with to the steps to be followed.
In order to get the desired results out of a task that you choose to delegate, it is best that you begin by painting the final result in the mind of the delegatee. It does not help for you to remain with this picture and then issue out instructions. The actual image of the results you desire must be imprinted in the delegatee’s mind as well.
In addition to this, it is advisable that you give all the resources needed to undertake the task. Sometime these resources may include guidance on what has worked or failed in the past.
Keeping communication lines open is also vital. You may find that you need to agree on timelines for when the work will be reviewed and how appropriate feedback will be given.
In order to achieve your desired results, ensure that you leave enough time for the going back and forth which occurs during delegation. This will also ensure that you are able to put out small fires before the flames expand.
Why Delegation Works
By using delegation you quickly discover that you are able to let go of some of your should do’s and all of your can’t do’s. This allows you enough time to enjoy balance in your life.
Delegation also works because you are able to learn that there are other ways to get things done some of which are even more effective than what you were doing.
It is a two-way street when it comes to empowerment since both you and the delegatee are able to learn from each other as skills are exchanged. What is required from you is patience as the delegatee acquires expertise in the task at hand. Your job is to show them the ropes and encourage them then watch them raise to the occasion and perform.
In summary, it is clear that continued use of delegation will allow us to have more balance in our lives. What you have to remember is that although in most cases the delegatee may not do the task exactly as you would, if they can do a fairly good job then it’s imperative that we let go.
The key is to have trust in the delegatee and give them honest feedback so they grow. It is of no use when you get back work that does not match what you were expecting and keep quiet then re-do it yourself. The delegatee must always be given the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Likewise, when a good job is done you need to give the appropriate reward and compliments. The delegatee must be duly recognised for their efforts. In some cases this may entail putting their names on the final document instead of taking all the credit yourself.