Five Key Principles of Delegation & The Three Golden Rules

Delegation is a Must-Have Skill for all Forward-Thinking Leaders

However, some managers are reluctant to delegate their responsibilities to their employers. They fear that their workers may not carry out their tasks on time to match their taste. At times, they worry that they may lose control of functions under their management when they tell their workers to take over certain roles in the workplace. This worry is is a result of lack of trust. The harsh reality is this: the more such managers limit their workers’ autonomy and do everything in the workplace alone, the more they feel overwhelmed and experience burnout.

Circle of chess pieces with big piece in the centre

Sounds like you are feeling stressed and experiencing lower productivity because you are not delegating your work to your subordinates? You are not alone.

Whether you are a manager, supervisor or a leader in your workplace, you need to master the principles of effective delegation. This knowledge will help you to achieve your goals in less amount of time. By delegating your tasks, you have more time to develop your skills and focus on high-level tasks.

In recent years, a Gallup study found that organizations led by managers with effective delegation skills achieved a business growth that was 112% greater than those led by managers with limited delegation skills. This result suggests that you can maximize your productivity by changing your can-do-everything-alone mindset and transferring your work to your subordinates.

Aim of This Article

Wondering how to become a strong delegator in your company? If yes, you’ve come to the right place. Our goal in writing this blog post is to enlighten you about the principles of delegation in management. After reading this blog post, you should be able to answer the following questions.

What:

  • is an effective delegation?
  • are the five principles of delegation?
  • are the three golden rules of delegation?

Meaning of Effective Delegation

Effective delegation refers to the art and science of transferring responsibility for the performance of a task to a competent subordinate and ensuring that your assigned task is completed on time and in a successful manner.

The hallmark of good leadership is effective delegation. And to delegate your tasks effectively, you need to do two things. One is to relinquish the responsibility of the task to your subordinate. The other is to be accountable for the outcome of the assigned task.

Five Principles of Delegation

Creative layout. Rainbow foil balloon number and digit five 5.

Are you looking for the best answer to “principles of delegation” on Google? We’ve thoroughly reviewed the literature on the principles of delegation in management and found these five principles of delegation in management to be useful.

  1. Determine what functions can be delegated.
  2. Clarify the desired result.
  3. Identify the right time to delegate a task.
  4. Chose the right person to delegate a task to.
  5. Provide the right supervision.

Step 1: Determine What Functions can be Delegated

Knowing the right tasks to delegate to your staff should be the first step in your delegation efforts. Just because you are the boss in your workplace does not mean you can delegate any tasks to your subordinate.

Is the task you want to delegate personal, confidential, or sensitive in nature? Does it require your personal expertise or personal leadership? If yes, carry out the tasks by yourself. For instance, tasks that come with legal restrictions should NOT be assigned to others by you, the manager. No matter the circumstances, you should sign all relevant legal papers yourself or hire a competent attorney to do so on your behalf.

If at all you want to delegate your work to others, make sure the tasks are so simple but tedious that anyone can do them. For instance, you can delegate all your data-entry tasks to interns or employees new to the company.

Apart from transferring all time-consuming tasks that require little skill to your workers, you should also delegate tasks you are not passionate about, such as sending emails to customers, booking flights for business trips, scheduling meetings, and making copies of documents.

Step 2: Clarify the Desired Results

Once you’ve determined the functions you want to delegate, ask yourself this question: What outcome do I expect from the tasks I want to delegate to my subordinates? Before delegating authority to your workers, you should clarify your goals, deadlines, targets, and standards. Doing this will allow your workers to find a more creative way to accomplish your task on time.

Keep in mind that the best way to clarify your desired result is to write down your S.M.A.R.T goals. Read on to learn what each word in the acronym means.

SMART Objective words on a dartboard
Specific

Your desired result should specify an area of improvement. For instance, you can tell your subordinate that to improve the sales revenues of department X. The moment you specify what you want your employees to improve, they will know what is at stake and begin to mobilize resources to meet your needs.

Measurable

Any task you delegate to others must be quantifiable. You should use percentage or numbers to indicate the progress you desire from the task you are delegating. Do you want sales revenues of department X to increase by Y%? Do you want 5000 bags of product X to be distributed to customers? Tell your subordinates your expectations.

Attainable

While you are dreaming big and aiming for the star, make sure you are realistic in your measurable goals. Don’t delegate tasks that are impossible to achieve based on existing limitations and available resources. Make sure you do your research or ask people around to know whether a task is achievable or not.

Relevant

Remember, all great results are sensible, simple, and significant. Don’t delegate tasks that are immoral, illegal, or irrelevant. Instead, delegate tasks that are reasonable and worthwhile. More importantly, make sure that you delegate only tasks that align with the objectives of your organization.

Time-bound

Always give your employees a deadline when you delegate tasks to them. The deadline may be in years, months, days, hours, or minutes.

In a nutshell, after you’ve written down your SMART goals, your desired results should be like these:

  • “I was hoping you could improve the sales revenues of department X by Y% in Z days.”
  • “I was hoping you could print X copies of this document in Y days.”

Step 3: Identify the Right Time to Delegate a Task

Close up of red alarm clock

The next step – after clarifying your desired result – is to identify the right time to delegate a task. You should never delegate a task to subordinates that lack the skills to complete your work successfully. Give such employees some time to learn the ropes and strengthen their skills before you assign an activity to them.

It would also be in your best interest not to assign your tasks to subordinates who are sick or not in the right frame of mind. If your favourite worker is overloaded with responsibilities, find another staff to handle your task or wait until this competent person is available to work on your project.

Step 4: Chose the Right Person to Delegate a Task to

Not everyone in your workplace will be able to complete your work professionally. All subordinates in your company have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Some workers have keen eyes for details, while some employees are highly proficient in thinking out of the box. As a manager, your job is to identify the best candidate whose strengths and expertise align with the tasks you want to delegate.

Step 5: Provide the Right Supervision

This is perhaps the most difficult principles of delegation in management. If you’ve chosen the right person to delegate your task to, put your faith in that person. Let go of perfectionism. Your subordinates can never be as perfect as you. If the candidate can complete your work 70-80% satisfactorily, that’s fine. You can finetune the work later to meet your taste.

Also, resist the urge to micromanage the person you delegated the task to. Doing so will lower the person’s morale or make the person feel incompetent, according to a study carried out by Accountemps, an accounting firm. Instead of criticizing every minor mistake of the project, the author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics, Karen Dillon, advises that you should give the person the right amount of autonomy and trust that person with the process.

Of course, mistakes will likely happen when you assign your so-called simple project to your subordinates. Don’t worry. They will learn from the blunders and become more competent in the future.

Three Golden Rules of Delegation of Authority

top view of rules word made of wooden blocks on brown surface

There are three golden rules you should always stick to when you are delegating your tasks to others. There is no way you can implement the principles of delegation in management without following these laws:

Rule 1: Communicate Often

All effective delegators have one thing in common. They often communicate with whom they are delegating their work. So, be clear and concise when talking to your employees about the work you want to delegate. Don’t use jargon or ambiguous words when providing details of the assigned tasks to your staff. Apart from that, your voice tone must be warm and friendly when you are communicating with them.

Also, make sure you choose the right communication platform when transferring your responsibility to your staff. For complex tasks, you discuss with them in person rather than chatting on social media networks. However, if you feel the task is simple and easy to understand, you can talk to the person on the phone.

At the end of your delegation discussion with your employees, you should ask them questions about the assigned tasks. This will help you know to know whether or not they understand the task details. It’s also your responsibility to tell them to ask you any questions they do not understand about the task you are assigning to them. The more effectively you communicate more often with your subordinates, the more they will be motivated to contribute to the company’s success.

Rule 2: Engender Trust

Engendering trust among your workers is essential to your ability to delegate tasks to them effectively. To engender trust, you need to treat your subordinates the same way you treat your friend or loved ones. Don’t blame or accuse them. Instead, ask them what they need to meet your needs. Giving them the flexibility to take risks and the freedom to try out a new way of accomplishing your task will make them respect you and perceive you as an effective delegator.

Keep in mind that it’s very wrong to attack the personality of your subordinates when you are commenting on the work you assigned to them. For example, rather than saying, “You are a failure. You failed to complete the tasks successfully,” say, “I noticed you forgot to carry this aspect of the task. Could you please do it for me?”

Rule 3: Don’t Micromanage

Delegation and micromanagement are like water and oil. Both don’t mix well. There is no way you can micromanage your staff and still be an effective delegator. Micromanagement limits the capacity of your subordinates. You are sending a wrong signal to those whom you are delegating your work to when you are keeping close tabs on them. You are indirectly telling them that they are incompetent and unqualified to meet your needs.

Wondering how to know when you are micromanaging? Here are the top ten signs you’ve become a micromanager.

You:

  • Always complain about your employees’ small mistakes.
  • Overcommunicate your desired results to your employees.
  • Always ask your workers to update you or seek your approval before making any changes to the assigned tasks.
  • Prefer to be cc’d on emails.
  • Are hyper-aware of everything your employees are doing and what they are up to.
  • Always regret delegating your tasks to your subordinates.
  • Are never satisfied with your workers’ deliverables.
  • Think no one but you in the workplace is perfect.
  • Discourage your workers’ use of creative methods to complete your work.
  • Are bossy, pompous, and self-centered.

If you show any of the above symptoms of a micromanager, it’s time to let go. No principles of delegation of authority can help you if you keep on micromanaging your staff.

Upset employee and angry boss leaning over

The solution is simple. First, accept that you are a micromanager. Then, start working on yourself to become an effective delegator. Don’t pressurize yourself to be Elon Musk or Tim Cook in one week. Trust us, your unacceptable attitudes of a manager will not change overnight. It will take time and patience for you to shed all the undesirable behaviors of a manager listed above.

Final Thoughts on the Principles of Delegation

Effective delegation is an important feature of good managers. As a manager, your efforts to become a good manager rests on the five principles of delegation of authority: selecting the right task, clarifying the desired result, choosing the right circumstance, identifying the right person for the task, and providing the right supervision.

Regardless of the delegating strategy you adopt, make sure you often communicate with your staff, engender trust among your workers, and avoid all the signs of a micromanager.

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