working together

Why Delegation is Good Management

Share Responsibility and Empower Employees

Most businesses start small and grow. Managers find that growth gives them an increasing workload, so they add new members to their staff to perform some of the duties that were formerly handled by top management.

This situation gives managers the opportunity to delegate some of their decision-making to others at lower levels of responsibility. But there’s at least one big hurdle to overcome.

This obstacle is described as, delegating work, responsibility, and authority is difficult in a company because it means letting others make decisions which involve spending the owner-manager’s money.

At a minimum, you should delegate enough authority to get the work done, to allow assistants to take initiative, and to keep the operation moving in your absence.

Delegation can give management more time to focus on the important issues in the business and also helps their team members to grow in their jobs. It can be a win-win situation for the business and its staff.

Managers Should Analyze and Cost what they do

Most managers don’t realize how much time they spend doing work that could be performed by others – work that is not really related to critical functions of the business.

They need to identify work they’re doing that could be done by someone else, and list the decisions that these tasks require. These could be decisions about duties as simple as ordering office stationery or handling the petty cash, but it’s surprising how often a lack of delegation leaves top management with tasks like these.

Of course there’s an element of risk involved. Even the best-planned delegation efforts can go awry, leading to short-term productivity/profitability losses.

Indeed, risk is an inherent element of the delegation process, and some errors or misjudgements may occur as workers adjust to their new responsibilities.

Once the tasks to be delegated have been identified, calculate the cost risk of having these tasks handled by someone else. In other words, how much is at risk is something goes wrong? If the petty cash float is $200 then the most that can be lost is that amount.

Now calculate the authority level needed for each task. If the usual stationery order is $150 a month then give the person handling the ordering the authority to commit a maximum $150 on behalf of the business.

Next identify the staff members capable of making decisions related to those tasks. This requires a careful appraisal of their current performance and a review of their work histories and educational backgrounds. It’s a bit like a talent search, but it can be surprising just how many unused abilities there are in most workforces.

Managers Need to Develop Trust

Delegation requires trust. Many managers have a hard time letting go of responsibilities because they aren’t certain they can trust anyone else to do the work, but unless they trust and empower their team members they are limiting both their employees’ potential and the potential of the business to grow.

Empowerment doesn’t mean a complete and immediate shift of responsibility.

Employee empowerment does not mean absolute authority or absolute power. Empowerment is the extent or degree of responsibility and authority given to an employee or to a team. Different people and different teams will have varying degrees of empowerment based upon their level of experience and expertise.

Managers still have the responsibility to ensure that any person to whom work is delegated is equipped to make those decisions. This may require specific training, and certainly requires supervision while people get used to making new decisions at a more responsible level.

Give it Time

It will probably take time for the transition to become fully effective. Managers should be available for consultation and review the effects of decisions that are made until they’re certain they can fully pass on the responsibility for making them without worries about performance.