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The Importance of Delegation

Delegation is one of the most important management skills. When it's done well it saves you time, develops employees, grooms a successor, and motivates. Doing poorly will cause you frustration, de-motivate and confuse the other person, and fail to achieve the task or purpose itself. It is a management skill that's worth improving.

For a more detailed outline of delegation and improving your delegation skills, find out more here. 

Principles and Purposes of Delegation

  1. Delegation is a very helpful aid for succession planning, personal development - and seeking and encouraging promotion. It's how we grow in the job as it enables us to gain experience to take on higher responsibilities. 
  2. Effective delegation is actually crucial for effective succession. For the successor, and for the manager too: the main task of a manager in a growing, thriving organisation is ultimately to develop a successor. 
  3. As a giver of delegated tasks, you must ensure delegation happens properly. Just as significantly, as the recipient of tasks, you have the opportunity to 'manage upwards' and suggest improvements to the delegation process and understanding - especially if your manager could use the help. 

In summary, delegation saves time, motivates people, is a two-way process and can often groom a successor.

Deciding on Which Tasks to Delegate - SMARTER Delegation

A simple rule is the SMART acronym or sometimes even SMARTER. Before delegating tasks check whether they are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Agreed
  4. Realistic
  5. Timebound
  6. Ethical
  7. Recordable

    This delegation and review form provides more detail on how to implement these in practice when delegating tasks. 

    Psychological or Emotional Contracts

    Variously called 'contracts' or 'psychological contracts' or 'emotional contracts', these expressions describe the process of agreeing with the other person what they should do and the expectations linked to the responsibility. 

    • This is based on the premise that forming a "contract" by agreeing on the expectations and responsibilities that come with a task, increases accountability and commitment. 
    • It is essential to the so-called contracting process to discuss a range of topics such as time-scale, resources, budget, purpose and method of the task that is being delegated. Further, it is advisable to also include questions, issues or concerns in this discussion.

    For further information see The Psychological Contract and Transactional Analysis Contracting - both are highly relevant to delegation.