Delegation- “The act of empowering to act for another”
Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person who will then carry out these specific activities. Thus – delegation is a core concept of management and leadership, without which management would be highly ineffective. Some experts say that the difference between a good and a bad manager is the ability to delegate and get things done through others.
From a distance it seems very simple:
Basically, I have something to be done, and I tell someone to do it. End of story…
But in actuality delegation is much much more than that.
We should be careful to understand the full concept of delegation and that it has many important facets; Responsibility, accountability, it also has tools, resources, goals, measurability and deadlines.
Why should we delegate?
Think for a moment of an important task that you need done:
Ask yourself – is this the best use of my time if I do it myself? Probably not…
But often, people don’t delegate simply because it’s a lot of work in preparation beforehand. You have to define a lot of things and sometimes even set up systems so that the delegation would work efficiently. And so, many conclude it’s simply easier if I do the task myself. That could be true, but that really limits the organization’s growth.
If you delegate efficiently then you are helping to develop the skill set of those who you are delegating tasks to – so that next time they can completely take over the task from you without so much explanation or input from your side. It’s an investment- investment of time and trust. This in turn exercises the delegation muscle and gives you more confidence in handing over similar tasks in the future.
It’s worth learning the art of delegation – it saves you time,money, and it develops the skills of individuals working with you – you’ll be more effective and it will free up your time to think more strategically.
How to delegate and who to delegate to?
Both those who delegate and those who receive delegated tasks must be ready and able. When assigning responsibilities to an individual, those giving out the tasks must be able to communicate effectively – what is it that they are wanting to happen? What is the deadline? In what fashion should it be conducted?
Unless good communication is practiced then the conclusion may be completely different, or even detrimental to the desired result. Those receiving tasks should be fine tuned to the needs of those giving them tasks. Clarifying tasks and steps if in doubt, asking for confirmation, giving progress reports and feedback, these all done correctly, fine tune the delegation process.
Those receiving tasks should be empowered to be able to take the task to its desired conclusion. Unless you’re giving tasks to qualified and responsible people then you’re simply paving way for problems. Having a good transmitter and a good receiver, both operating at the same frequency allows the music to sound loud and clear, no crackles and muffled noises!
As a side note – one important rule of delegation is that you should delegate the task to the lowest possible level in the organization. This is both a matter of practicality and etiquette. We should not be asking our vice-president to personally wash our car…. it’s not the best use of his time, and it’s certainly overstepping etiquette.
There are several models for delegation and clarifying the roles in a project where delegation takes place. Let’s look at the RACI model. The RACI model describes participation by roles in completing tasks for a project. It clearly defines responsibilities, accountability and the flow of information and instructions.
Responsible (also Recommender)
Those who are actually doing the work to complete the task. There is at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work required.
Accountable (also Approver or final approving authority)
The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible. In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.
Consulted (sometimes Consultant or counsel)
Those whose opinions are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.
Informed (also Informee)
Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.
If you are in a leadership / management position, learn how to delegate effectively – free up your time to think strategically, train those who work under you to responsible and trustworthy executors on your behalf.
If you are in a position receiving tasks, fine tune, try to see how you can unload as much as possible from your executive – think ahead, learn how to predict their needs, giving them the confidence to hand over tasks without fear or anxiety.
Fine tune that radio!
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- Zoltan Hosszu, Joyful Leadership Manual
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2019). Retrieved from