Delegation

One of the key skills of management is delegation. But it’s not simply just passing on work to your employees. Have you ever given someone an assignment and it came back late and not nearly like you wanted it. It may be that the employee isn’t as good as you, doesn’t pay attention to detail like you, or work as diligently as you. These things may be true. However, more likely, the problem was that the way you delegated the assignment was highly inadequate.

If you want it done right, learn how to enable your employees to do it right. If you want it done right, you don’t have to do it yourself. How? You must be organized. You must plan. And when delegating, you must be very specific. You have a very specific outcome in mind for an assignment but your employees can’t read your mind. You must explicitly describe the feature in detail in writing. Verbal communication is a horrible way to communicate requirements. For big projects, break down the assignment into smaller tasks and provide meaningful checkpoints to receive feedback and give guidance. The more knowledgeable and senior the employee, the less guidance you need to give. For new hires, you should make the decisions. Once the new hire has experience, let them make decisions but inform you of the decisions so you can intervene or overrule where needed. For trusted and experienced senior engineers, decisions can be made and acted upon solely by the engineer. This dependence on employees making their own decisions is pure delegation freeing up your time for other activities, and this is the ultimate goal of delegation. It also provides employees autonomy which is a key factor in employee happiness. Finally, the importance of the task must be clearly communicated, preferably with a defined date on which it is due.

As manager, with proper preparation and organization, assignments with specified features and a precise priority and due date, and the appropriate amount of interaction based on the employee’s ability, you should be able to delegate effectively. If you feel like you have to do everything yourself to achieve the quality that you desire, you need to change the way you delegate. As boss, be humble and take responsibility. If the outcome is not as you desired, it is likely that you are more at fault than the employee. Delegation is a sign of a good manager, it allows people to grow, and it allows the organization to grow.

 

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