Task delegation has always been a practice in any workplace. It’s a common occurrence for a manager to assign tasks, projects, and responsibilities to their team members in order to lighten their workload and accomplish their goals faster. However, many leaders and managers struggle to effectively utilize this framework to get the most output and value.
Effective task delegation is not as simple as assigning tasks. It requires careful planning and consideration from the managers’ end in order to find out who, what, and which tasks fit the qualities of their team members. Without this, delegating tasks can negatively affect not only the overall productivity of the business but also the employees’ performance and motivation to work.
For delegative leaders, it is essential that they understand the basic elements and principles of effective task delegation. This will allow them to better plan their delegation process and come up with a more appropriate and applicable task delegation scheme.
With that, here is an overview of the principles of task delegation as well as a guide that can help you get better at delegating tasks in the workplace.
What Is Task Delegation?
In the most basic sense, task delegation is simply the transfer of tasks and responsibilities to a subordinate. Leaders and managers have the power and authority to assign responsibility and delegate work to a team member with the purpose of finishing the assigned task faster and better. It can also be a means to train subordinates by giving them work much bigger than what they are used to.
The 3 Elements of Effective Task Delegation
To further understand the basics of effective delegation, it is essential to know about the primary elements or principles of the delegation process.
Delegation of Authority
Authority is an essential element of task delegation as it grants a subordinate the authority to work on a task assigned to them by the leader. Without this, a team member would not dare bother or even touch a task or project that is not given to them.
Thus, the first step of the delegation process is giving the employee the permission or authority to execute and complete a task as said so by the manager.
Transfer of Responsibility
A sense of responsibility is another crucial element in effective task delegation. When a project is assigned to a team member, they immediately feel the pressure of completing the task properly and timely. A good leader-to-team member relationship can help strengthen this obligation as employees feel responsible to perform the task as assigned and expected from them by their superiors.
Establishment of Accountability
The element of accountability is a relatively complex concept in the task delegation process. While employees feel obliged and responsible to perform their assigned tasks delegated to them by their leaders, it is important to understand that the leader is the one accountable for the outcome of their delegated work.
In this sense, the accountability of the subordinate lies between them and their manager. However, the leader still holds accountability for the results of their subordinates’ work.
The 5 Types of Task Delegation
Moving on to the types of task delegation, there are certain levels of delegation where the degree of authority, responsibility, and accountability of the employee depends on. The higher profile task or project is delegated, the more authority, responsibility, and accountability the employee has over their work.
For some tasks, it requires little to no input or personal recommendations from the team member. On others, it would need all the effort from the team member and only minimal supervision from the leader.
This type of task delegation is considered the simplest as it involves clear and exact instructions for the employee to do and follow. Under this level, the team leader has already identified what they want their employees to do and have specified the expected outcome from this task.
The second level of task delegation requires more input from the team member. Instead of simply asking the employee to complete a task exactly as instructed, they are asked to work, gather information, and then report their findings to the supervisor.
The report would be the primary output and the team leader can base their next steps and instructions on what you were able to research. This is still a one-sided process where decision-making and problem-solving still lie in the hands of the leader.
For this delegation level, employees have a more active role in their tasks as they are asked to research, report, as well recommend possible solutions, ideas, and options to the leader. This becomes a collaborative effort between the team leader and the employee.
It also provides the employee with a sense of ownership and responsibility over the final outcome of the task at hand. However, decision-making and authority still primarily belong to the leader.
This form of delegation provides employees with further authority, responsibility, as well as accountability over their work. Under this level, employees are given the authority to make decisions as they see fit and simply inform their supervisors about them. Leaders take a step back and allow their team members to work with minimal supervision.
This type of task delegation involves leaders completely handling authority and responsibility over an assigned task. Employees are given full confidence in their capabilities and are authorized to make their own decisions without the need to inform or consult their supervisor.
Periodic updates may be required but the leader has completely taken their hands off this project and trusts the employee to take over.
One key to effective task delegation is determining and establishing the level of authority, responsibility, and accountability an employee is given when assigned a task. It is important for leaders to specify and clarify these three elements in order to ensure that team members are performing their tasks accordingly.
Guide To Delegating Tasks Effectively
Find the right person for the right job
Effective task delegation requires the skills and commitment of both the leader and the employee. In order to delegate tasks effectively, it is crucial that you identify the right person suited for the task at hand.
If it’s a marketing project, find someone within your marketing team. But aside from their skills and experience, it is also important to consider their characteristics, work ethic, and personality to see if they are able to handle the given responsibilities.
Explain what needs to be done
While finding the best person for the job is one thing, team leaders are responsible for setting the tone and determining what exactly is involved in the task to be delegated. Provide clear instructions and a detailed guide on how things should be done and what the expected outcome or results for the project are.
But more than the expected outcome, it is essential that the leader specify the type of delegation or level of authority, responsibility, and accountability to be given when an employee is delegated a task. Do not proceed with the transfer of authority and responsibility if certain aspects of the job are not clear to the employee.
Provide training, guidance, and feedback when necessary
Delegating tasks to employees is one of the most effective ways to train them and develop their skills. While task delegation aims to minimize the practice of micromanaging employees, leaders still need to ensure that their employees are working properly, effectively, and efficiently.
To help with this, provide your employees with the training, guidance, and feedback they may need while working on their assigned tasks whenever necessary. This will help create a good mentoring relationship between team members and also ensure that employees are headed on the right path with their work.
It is not easy to become a delegative leader. Much like any endeavor, it requires significant effort to master the art of delegation and effectively delegate tasks to benefit both the organization and the employees.
Understanding the principles of effective task delegation is the first step to properly adopting a delegative leadership style. Soon enough, you would be able to polish your delegation skills and establish a productive and supportive work environment.
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