Know the Secrets of Delegating Authority

Delegating authority is a tough job. And it gets tougher all the time as one’s responsibilities are increased and the stakes get larger. But it is also a rewarding job. It is rewarding not alone in financial returns but also in the feeling that one has contributed to releasing the creative potential in an associate.

In one situation, it became more and more evident that the manufacturing head of a division in a company was making all the decisions for each superintendent. This man had wide knowledge and many other qualifications for his positions, yet the plant management was not clicking. For endless months, it seemed, people tried to make clear to him that he would have no security with them until the men under him were given authority. But he was not able to change his habits. What accounted for his failure? It was not conceit; he did not have the illusion that “only I know what’s best”. His trouble was that he underestimated the ability of others. In this respect he was typical of so many other men who cannot delegate effectively.

This important principle should be borne in mind through the remainder of this article. No matter how many books you have read and courses you have taken, you don’t really know much about delegation unless you know how much other people can do given the right opportunities.

You Must Retain Accountability

Delegation means that you give another person authority to do certain job; but you stay accountable for what happens. You “stay with it”, so to speak. You keep on top of it, even though the other man is carrying out the work. Some good ways of doing this, singly or in combination, are the following:

  • Talk the job over with your subordinate before you ask him to go ahead.
  • Haven an understanding with him about the problems he reports back to you.
  • Develop with him a plan of work, a schedule of the main activities and tasks to be done.
  • Be on the scene enough to have a first-hand “feel” of what is going on and how things are moving.
  • Require progress reports from the men with assigned tasks.
  • Schedule conferences every so often to discuss work in progress and problems that have arisen.
  • Where the subordinates must work with people in other departments, arrange for the handling of disputes and other interdepartmental problems that may arise.
  • Finally, when things go wrong, do not delegate the unpleasant tasks of explaining to employees why they must be dismissed, retired, or passed over for promotion.

Author: KPO

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