- Extinguish Fires Calmly and Effectively
- Effective Delegation
- Motivate Team to Grow and Develop
- Develop Your Leadership Skills
- Energize Your Persuasion Skills
- Meet Challenges with Confidence
- Sharing Your Vision with Others
- Looking for Ways to Grow and Develop
- Create Alignment with Good Communication
- Working Smarter and Not Harder
- January 13, 2022
Effective Delegation can help take SMEs to next level
Most SMEs are incorporated as a proprietorship or a partnership. As an entrepreneur, in the beginning you handle almost everything yourself. However, as the organisation grows in size and complexity, you cannot manage everything and need to focus on where you can add maximum value.
You need to hire staff and delegate jobs to them. The skill of delegation comes into the picture here. It leads to high productivity among motivated employees and also lets leaders focus on strategy and taking the organisation to the next level. Why, then, inspite of the proven benefits, do so few of us practice delegation and what do we need to do to delegate more and delegate better?
Let us first understand what delegation entails. Delegation is the transfer of responsibility of a job to the subordinate, along with authority and resources so that the subordinate can do the job effectively.
Then, with minimum effort from your side, the employee will continue to do that job. Remember that you can delegate responsibility and authority, but final accountability rests with you as owner or manager of the business. You are “delegating”, not ‘abdicating”!
However, there are a few habits most people have, which lead to sub-optimal delegation:
1. A “perfectionist attitude”: When you transfer the job to your subordinate, be prepared that her initial efforts may not be meeting your high standards that you set as a perfectionist. If the job is done well enough, accept it. Else you will likely never be satisfied, leaving you with a demotivated employee, as well as doing the job yourself, just because no one can meet your standards.
2. A “loss of control”: Someone who is used to directing others, telling them how to do their job may feel insecure when people around them start doing their jobs themselves. Sometimes, when these employees do the job better than in the past, the feeling of insecurity may actually increase. This will need to be closely managed otherwise such bosses can quickly derail all the good work of delegation.
3. Micromanaging: Trying to micromanage every element of the job will again leave you doing all the work and result in a confused and demotivated employee. Be prepared that while the employee will try to do the job as best as she can, however it will not be exactly as you want it to the last detail.
4. “I don’t have the time to delegate”: Especially when you start the delegation process, you may need to invest more time in training and coaching the employee, giving them the necessary skills, tools and measures to do the job properly. Be prepared that initially you may need to invest more time with them.
5. Accountability: Avoid the habit of taking the credit when things go well, and blaming the employee when mistakes are made. Remember, you are still accountable for the results. You chose the task to delegate, the person to delegate it to and the checks and balances to ensure that the job is performed consistently to the required standards of quality.
6. Trust: Remember the cost benefit of the delegation exercise, the benefits are much more than the costs of employee attrition. Delegation, if done right, is shown to increase the morale and motivation of the team, effectively making employees more loyal to their organisation. It is a competitive advantage and that too without paying extra for the same.
Tips on effective delegation:
First decide what you would like to delegate: Choose those jobs which are routine and operational in nature, are detail oriented and consume a high proportion of your time, without having consequent benefits or value add to the organisation, for example, planning the duty roster of your teams.
Some jobs are not in the range of your skill set and probably take more time than it would one of your employees, example, making company presentations, marketing brochures, or scheduling the availability of the conference room. And finally, there are jobs which may not suit your temperament. Remember, these jobs may be boring for all, so do make it a point to delegate a mix of interesting jobs as well.
Decide who you would like to delegate these jobs to: There are people who love to take responsibility. Inexperienced employees may need more monitoring and a longer handover time. More experienced employees can handle greater freedom and the delegation process can be fast. There are other employees who have vast experience in their field as well, but may not be willing to take up additional roles without knowing “what is in it for me”? To such people you may have to sell the concept of delegation and show how they will benefit from taking up additional tasks and roles.
And lastly there are those who avoid responsibility, and to such people you may choose to delegate later or not at all. They will realise over time the blessings of delegation bestowed on their colleagues who have more formal and informal power, authority, resources, empowerment, motivation, appreciation, job security and the many other benefits of delegation. When assigning tasks, consider each person’s skills, interests and availability.
Start the process of delegation: Sit with your employee and take the time for her to understand what you are proposing. Take their point of view about the exercise, remember you are delegating, not directing, and delegation is a participatory process. Give them the necessary training, tools, processes and resources for them to do their job. Only responsibility, without the necessary authority or resources is setting them up for failure.
Let them do a couple of runs with you where you mentor them through the process, encourage them to do it themselves, and look over their shoulder without interfering on a minute to minute basis. Resist the urge to jump in and do their job for them. Set up certain transparent standards and performance indicators, so that they (and others) can view their performance and know where they are lacking and can take self-corrective actions.
Finally, reduce your support and take the back seat: Once the person is relatively good at the job, leave them to do it themselves, enjoy the extra time you get and use it for constructive, strategic and value-added jobs to grow your business. Appreciate when they do the job well, celebrate the times when they exceed expectations and validate the trust you placed in them! Let them know that they can always get back to you if they need help. Monitor their performance, ensure corrective actions are taken before things go out of hand but largely leave them to operate on an independent basis.
Do not hesitate to take back the job, if the job is not being done right in spite of all your best efforts. Not all delegation exercises will meet with success but do learn from your delegation failures as well. You are on your way to becoming a good ‘Delegator”, and as you enjoy the fruits, you are further enthused to take the process to the next level - after all, who wouldn’t like to run an organisation which runs by itself, has a motivated team who do all your routine jobs, and leaves you free to use your time as you deem fit.
Mr Rahul Jain & Mr Rohit Nayar
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