In life, you always have a choice. You can either do everything yourself or you can get others to help you do some of the work. Our entire economic structure is built on the principle of specialization. Specialization means that some people become very good at doing certain tasks while other people become very good at doing other tasks.
Delegation is one of the most important management skills. Without the ability to delegate effectively and well, it is impossible for you to advance in management to higher positions of responsibility.
Delegation is not only about maximizing your own productivity and value; it is also about maximizing the productivity of your staff. Your job as a manager is to get the highest return on the company’s investment in people. The average person today is working at 50 percent of capacity. With effective delegation, you can tap into that unused 50-percent potential to increase your staff’s productivity.
Your job as a manager is to develop people. Delegation is the means that you use to bring out the very best in the people that you have.
- The first step in delegation is to think through the job. Decide exactly what is to be done. What result do you want?
- The second step in delegation is to set performance standards. How will you measure to determine whether the job has been done properly or not?
- The third step is to determine a schedule and a deadline for getting the job done.
The task-relevant maturity of your staff — how long they have been on the job and how competent they are — determines your method of delegation.
- Low task-relevant maturity means they are new and inexperienced in the job. In this case, use a directive delegation style. Tell people exactly what you want them to do.
- Medium task-relevant maturity means staff have experience in the job; they know what they are doing. In this case, use the management by objectives delegation method. Tell people the end result that you want and then get out of their way and let them do it.
- High task-relevant maturity is when the staff person is completely experienced and competent. Your method of delegation in this case is simply easy interaction.
The Art of Delegation
There are seven essentials for effective delegation:
- Pick the right person. Picking the wrong person for a key task is a major reason for failure.
- Match the requirements of the job to the abilities of the person. Be sure that the delegatee is capable of doing the job.
- Delegate effectively to the right person. This frees you to do more things of higher value. The more of your essential tasks that you can teach and delegate to others, the greater the time you will have to do the things that only you can do.
- Delegate smaller tasks to newer staff to build their confidence and competence.
- Delegate the entire job. One hundred percent responsibility for a task is a major performance motivator. The more often you assign responsibilities to the right people, the more competent they become.
- Delegate clear outcomes. Make them measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Explain what is to be done, how you think it should be done, and the reasons for doing this job in the first place.
- Delegate with participation and discussion. Invite questions and be open to suggestions. There is a direct relationship between how much people are invited to talk about the job and how much they understand it, accept it, and become committed to it. You need to delegate in such a way that people walk away feeling, “This is my job; I own it.”
All excellent managers are excellent delegators. In old-school thinking, people used to say that, “If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself.”
In new-school thinking, however, the correct statement is, “If you want the job done right, you have to delegate it properly to others so that they can do it to the proper standard.”
Supervising is the process of making sure the job is done on time and on budget. Delegation is not abdication; you are still accountable for results. The more important the job is, the more important it is that you keep on top of it. The job of the manager is to get things done through others. Your ability to organize the work and to supervise your staff effectively to get the job done on schedule and on budget is the key to getting the results for which you are responsible. Your ability to supervise others can be greatly improved by learning what other excellent managers have discovered over the years and by applying these principles and ideas to your interactions with your subordinates.
Five Keys to Excellent Supervision
There are five keys to excellent supervision:
- Accept complete responsibility for your staff. You choose them, you assign them, and you manage them.
- Look upon your staff with the same patience and understanding as you would look upon younger members of your family.
- Practice the Friendship Factor with them, which is composed of three components: time, caring, and respect. Give staff time when they want to talk. Express caring and concern for them and their problems. Treat them with respect, the same way you would treat a customer or friend.
- Practice Servant Leadership, by seeing your job as a position of trust with your subordinates. Just as they are there to serve you and the company, you are there to serve them, as well.
- Practice Golden Rule Management. Treat each person the way you would like to be treated if the situation were reversed. When you practice Golden Rule Management — you manage other people the way you would like to be managed — you will elicit better performance from your people than in any other way.
© Brian Tracy. All rights reserved. The contents, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form for any purpose without the written permission of Brian Tracy.
Brian Tracy, author of Full Engagement!: Inspire, Motivate, and Bring Out the Best in Your People, is one of America’s most respected authorities on developing organizational and human potential. He is the top selling author of over 50 books that have been translated into dozens of languages.
His insights into leadership, personal effectiveness, business strategy, and success psychology, which he presents to more than half a million people around the world each year in his talks and seminars, produce immediate changes and long-term results.
Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.