Success at Work : Techniques : Delegation
Many people don't understand delegation. When they think of delegation, they
think of the old slogan "*it always flows down hill". Proper delegation can make
your team into a high performance machine. Poor delegation can result in mistakes,
poor quality, and missed schedules. In this article, I'm going to reveal some
powerful delegation techniques.
Most people think delegation always flows downward. An executive delegates a
task to a manager, who delegates the task to a supervisor, who delegates the task
to a worker. That is typically the way delegation flows, but powerful advantages
can be gained when delegation flows sideways and upwards too.
Although sometimes there are advantages to sideways and upwards delegation,
responsibility always flows upwards. Let's say a worker makes a serious mistake
and doesn't meet the schedule. Should the worker be fired?
The supervisor was given a task along with the authority and the resources
(the department's workers) to get the task done. The supervisor's manager is not
going accept the supervisor putting the blame on the employee. The supervisor
should have been monitoring the task and taking action if it wasn't going right.
Should the supervisor be fired?
The manager was given a task along with the authority and the resources (the
manager's department) to get the task done. The executive who assigned the task
is not going accept the manager putting the blame on the supervisor. A manager
has the responsibility to make and break supervisors in their department. If
the manager didn't select and train a supervisor they can rely on to get the
job done, it's the managers fault. Should the manager be fired?
The executive in charge of the manager needs to explain to the CEO or President
of the company that the job did not get done right. I think you're beginning to
see the pattern. Although delegation usually flows downhill, responsibility always
That's not to say that an under performing employee can't get fired for making
a mistake or failing to get work done on time. But somewhere up the chain of
command someone should have taken action to get the task back on track before
it became a problem.
delegate a task, someone else does the work, but you are still responsible for the results.
One of the biggest mistakes made with downward delegation is bypassing the
chain of command. For example, a manager bypasses the supervisor and delegates
a job directly to a worker. That manager has just made two mistakes.
The manager relieved the supervisor of all responsibility for that task and
all other tasks, because a supervisor can't be held responsible if they can't
control their resources. The manager also removed the supervisor's authority
over the worker because the worker now feels they report directly to the
manager, the same as the supervisor does.
If you are
an executive or manager, never bypass the chain of command. This will destroy
the effectiveness of your department, and since responsibility always flows
uphill, you will be cutting your own throat.