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Chapter 9: Delegation

Delegation is a way to appropriately and consistently provide direction to the staff. By delegating properly,
you can teach employees new skills and expertise to help them be more productive and instill a sense of self-
reliance, improving morale and motivation. As a supervisor, you must assess your staff's current abilities and
their potential to accept and complete assignments through established guidelines. You must know how to
plan and coordinate a variety of activities and how to monitor progress. Delegation brings into play many
management functions planning, organizing, coordinating, motivating, communicating, and leading.
Make sure that you delegate the appropriate level of authority to the task.

• Guiding Principles
• Choosing Projects or Tasks to Delegate
• Making Delegation Effective
• Preparing Employees for Delegation
• Resistance to Delegation
• Other Resources
• Training Resources

Guiding Principles

Your goals in delegating are to:

• Provide opportunities for growth and development

• Empower staff by letting them be responsible for the work
• Increase morale and self-confidence
• Give yourself more time to concentrate on staff and other management issues
• Enhance creativity and skills
• Increase staff involvement and commitment to the job

Choosing Projects or Tasks to Delegate

Choose the projects and tasks you delegate carefully to make sure you are balancing the risk with the potential
rewards. You may want to delegate tasks that meet the following criteria:

• All necessary information is available to your employee

• The parameters are clear
• The task does not involve responsibilities traditionally associated with management (i.e., hiring,
performance appraisals, disciplinary action)

Making Delegation Effective

You can do several things to increase your effectiveness in delegation. For delegation to work, your staff must
have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, the extent of their authority, and the results that they are
expected to produce.

• Select the employees who have the ability to do the job according to their experience and knowledge.
• Make sure your expectations are clearly understood.
• Let employees know you believe in their ability to carry out the task.
• Clearly define the employees' authority and responsibility.
• Monitor progress and establish feedback mechanisms.
• Establish deadlines and milestones.
• Empower employees by giving them the latitude to use their own imagination and initiative.
• Reward employees for the positive results they produce.
• Provide constructive feedback.

Preparing Employees for Delegation

 Find out what employees already know about the task. With this knowledge, you can communicate more
efficiently, without losing employees' attention or insulting their intelligence.
 Give a reason why explanation. Employees who understand the purpose of projects tend to commit
themselves more fully to completing those projects.
 Provide an example or illustration of the task.
 Make it clear that you welcome questions. Employees may feel embarrassed or afraid to reveal their lack
of knowledge about a subject or task. Reassure them that you are happy to answer any questions they might
 Work with employees at the beginning of new projects to provide the encouragement and instruction they

Resistance to Delegation

Understanding why you may be reluctant to delegate tasks and why staff members may be reluctant to accept
them will help you be a more effective delegator. The reluctance to delegate tasks is understandable because
you still retain accountability. Sometimes you may feel the transfer of a task involves a certain degree of risk.
Your staff may also be thinking about the risk; they are afraid that they may be criticized if they fail. Some
common reasons why managers and supervisors avoid delegation are:

• They are afraid the employee may make mistakes

• They think it takes too much time to delegate
• They feel that completing the task themselves would be more efficient
• They are concerned about losing control
• They fear that employees will resent delegation

Other Resources

 Your Employee Relations Specialist in Human Resources

Training Resources

Attend the Supervisory Certificate Program course, "Delegating for Success and Accountability" to learn more
about this important function. Enroll at: http://training.ucsf.edu/.