This is the 16th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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Delegation is the giving of something to do to another, explaining his or her own experience in the area, the objectives to be achieved, the resources that are available, and then informing that person that he or she has the authority to perform it. It’s not telling them how to do it, or standing over them while they do it. It’s the means by which the strengths of others are put to best use. If a manager can admit that some subordinates are superior in some ways to themselves, then they can and must delegate. Failure to delegate leads to failure to properly manage others effectively.

Business managers routinely have more responsibilities than time to carry them out. Too often they make the mistake of thinking no one else can make decisions or handle an important task. They’re wrong, of course. This attitude does not inspire subordinates to achieve at enhanced levels of performance and hurts the individual manager’s performance as well.

Follow the flow of authority in issuing instructions to employees. The manager delegates decisions and policies to the department heads and supervisors. They, in turn, instruct and direct the activities of employees under their supervision. If you’ve selected supervisors based upon their abilities, you must now have confidence in your own decisions and let them do their jobs as best they can. Accept the fact that they’re going to make mistakes, just as you have. If you don’t allow them to fail, you’ll prohibit them from enjoying the benefits of succeeding.

Communicate publicly your confidence in your employees. Don’t be afraid of delegating responsibility to others. If you’ve followed proper hiring methods, you should have confidence in the individuals you choose. Let them know you think they can handle the job but that you are available for consultation if they run into trouble. Monitor the work without appearing to hover over their shoulders. Generally, the jobs that should be delegated include:

All routine tasks. A lengthy, repetitive assignment should be assigned to a suitably skilled employee. This includes orienting new workers, preparing some reports, and other reoccurring-type tasks. The jobs in this category probably require more skill and discernment abilities than the routine tasks, so they should be assigned to well-chosen subordinates, not routinely given to everyone in the workplace.
Tasks Designed to Upgrade Performance. Some workers might be ready for promotions or additional task assignments. Their skills at routine tasks are high, and the manager thinks they might be ready to develop new skills. By assigning these workers job tasks outside their current skill areas, they are presented with an opportunity to grow within the organization. This kind of delegation is riskier than the others and requires more supervisory monitoring.

Some jobs simply cannot be delegated. If you are uncertain as to which tasks can be delegated and which cannot, review the job description sheets. Those responsibilities listed under your job classification are yours alone. They include planning, supervising, organizing and plotting workflow. They do not include getting the work done.

Delegation does not mean the abdication of responsibility and control. You should continue to provide input in a timely fashion, but only when the need arises. It requires you to take a specific job, train an individual to do the job, and then letting go. Good delegation is a method of measurement of performance - for you and the employee performing the task. If you have ever given the car keys to a teenager, you know how difficult letting go can be!

It goes without saying that good delegation requires clear communication. Spell out the details, deadlines, and objectives, and why the task must be performed in a specific sequence and manner. If those points are understood, the delegation will prove to be successful. Don’t ask for rush jobs, unless they are absolutely necessary, and then explain the reasons behind the hurry. Don’t cry wolf when there isn’t one!

If you experience friction with anyone with whom you come in contact in business (an employee, supplier, customer or competitor), don’t express criticism to a third party. Your opinion may be based on a feeling or unconscious discrimination, which may not be appreciated by others. Some people have the mistaken impression that they enhance their reputations by finding fault with others. Remember that an individual is performing a task that has been assigned to them.

When you’re delegating, it’s okay to include your recommendations, but remember to leave the worker some creative space too. Employees should be able to make some decisions about how the work is to be handled. Effective delegation is one of the most important managerial skills. You can improve morale, increase productivity (your own and others), and ease your job stress if you delegate wisely.

Mike Holt’s Comment: This newsletter article was extracted from Mike Holt’s Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. We value your opinions and participation. Please respond to Barbara at And… be sure to visit Mike Holt’s Website at

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