How Relevant is the art of Delegation?

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The delegation comes easily to people who plan every move or people who are following set pattern or processes. But most cases are such that your entire operation is usually unplanned, says Preeyan, in the regular column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Delegation is an art, most managers fail to understand how and when to delegate work. Sometimes, even the best of the managers struggle with this decision making, of what to delegate and to who?

The delegation comes easily to people who plan every move or people who are following set pattern or processes. But most cases are such that your entire operation is usually unplanned and you have at least 30% to 40% of your work which addresses ad hoc requirements. However well planned your operations are, there will be many such situations when you really don’t know what needs to be done and end up doing certain things, which are not worth accounting for in your time.

I say this because I have done this so often, that I now realise, there is a pattern to it and a little introspection may have helped me delegate it to someone else. Though may be slower but at least not at the cost of other deliverables.

Usually in such unstructured environment, when you have a set of tasks to perform, always plan your delegation, not all of it can be done by you, and more hands mean only better efficiency. A delegation of tasks also means that your bond with the team is only increasing. During your delegation plan, check on the complexity of the task, you will know who in your team, other than you can do this for you, and allocate accordingly.

Never take on something that a junior member or your colleague can do, because by doing so you are creating two kinds of problems for yourself. One is where you are seen as a person who wants to do everything just to show off saying, “I did it myself”. And two is that you are making your team lazy that you make it a habit of doing things yourself that the teammates start taking advantage of this in a wrong way which grows to become very detrimental to the system and to your career growth.

Majority of cases are with respect to the second problem, and those who face the first issue usually have to deal with high attrition. So, my advice to such people is that when you work as a team, try to be as inclusive as possible. Being independent is good, an independent contribution is only at your level, and it gets extrapolated to a larger target in terms of the organisation or the teams above your level.

Delegation is difficult because the person, who you have delegated the task to should understand the seriousness of it and should not default on timelines you have set. The best way to address this is by ensuring that you have spoken to this person, taken their buy-in and then accepted a timeline for closure. And it is also important that you review progress by periodically checking on the status so as to plan accordingly or plan for backups in case there is an inevitable delay.

The manager is like the conductor of an orchestra, who is giving cues to the different musicians, who are playing different musical instruments. One mistake by the conductor and the melody of the music is lost. The conductor is responsible for the timing, rhythm, tempo, harmony, and melody, which is similar to any manager who manages timelines, tasks, delegations, backups, delivery, and quality of the work.

Managers must realise that you are being paid an amount for getting a certain level of delivery to be done for the company, which can be quantitative or qualitative. Hence it is important to ensure that you do not lose that value in the organisation. It is better for you to replace the person who is not contributing to your team than to do things yourself because someone else goofed up. You will also need to be careful to use the resources correctly, any failure by the team is a direct responsibility that you need to take and not pass on a blame or hide behind the fact that a position or more in your team is vacant. There are some managers who do that and think they got away with it, but sooner or later the truth will prevail and you will face unceremonious consequences.

The difference between a good team player and a great team player is in the way the team works inclusively, similarly, the difference between a good team and a great team is the way the delegation is managed in the team by the leader. The difference between good and great is so small and tight that unless there is sharp focus greatness cannot be achieved. My boss always used to say to me that a great leader is one who delivers extraordinary results with ordinary people. This has made me realise that if we spend a little effort in teaching or working with one of our team members, they tend to become better at it and compliment you in completing a task.

Manage delegation and you can manage the outcome, think about it.


©Preeyan Abraham

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Preeyan Abraham is a HR professional. He loves travelling and all the little intricacies that it brings. A foodie, he enjoys cooking for relaxation. A movie buff and music lover, he appreciates simple things in life. He comes from a mix of religious backgrounds that has helped him appreciate all the good things of what all religions have to see. He looks at life as a platform created to perform and give the best.