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Be A Better Manager: Learn to Delegate!

Be A Better Manager: Learn to Delegate!

Kerrie Halmi | HRPeople

November 07, 2008

How do you find the time to develop your people? Delegation both frees up your time and can develop your people. It also increases productivity, morale and commitment. As the economy becomes more dependent on knowledge, managers need to delegate to be effective leaders. The number one reason for management failure is an inability to delegate.

So, why don’t managers delegate? They think it’s easier and more efficient to do it on their own and they think that they can do it better than their employees. These assumptions are incorrect. Other managers simply aren’t sure how to do it correctly. Delegation is both an art and a science. There are some basics in terms of doing it—find the right person, set clear expectations, settle on a regular check-in time. There is also the art of knowing people well enough to know how much they can handle; to stretch them without breaking them.

One of the simplest ways to start delegating is to ask, don’t tell. When an employee comes to you with an issue, remember to ask them open-ended questions as opposed to quickly providing them with an answer. A former manager used to continually remind me of the Chinese saying to “Give a person a fish and they’ll eat for a day; teach them to fish and they’ll eat for a lifetime.” Put that quote on your computer to remind you.

The University of Michigan did a study that found that 70% of managers’ work could be delegated. To delegate more of your tasks do the following exercise. In a two week period, list all of the tasks that you perform. At the end of that time period, decide which ones you could delegate to someone else. Decide who would be the best person to delegate to, keeping in mind each person’s strengths, needs for improvements and workload. Finally, put in place a structure to delegate, including clear expectations and check-in points.

Delegation is a practice that can be developed over time, learned by observing great managers do it and honed through coaching.


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