Delegation is the process of assigning responsibility and/or authority to another person on the team usually from a manager to a team (e.g., chief finance officer to accountant) for carrying out specific activities. But delegation being a core management leadership concept, it does not end with the assignment of tasks since the person who delegated the task remains accountable for its outcome – or in short, delegation and abdication are not synonymous.

Then there’s the other end of delegation, namely, micromanagement. In this case, the manager who delegated the task meddles too much in the work, usually by providing too much direction, performed by the team.

Indeed, effective and efficient delegation requires a balancing act between abdication and micromanagement. Keep these tips in mind when delegating tasks from identifying who gets what assignment to tracking their work in an effective, efficient and productive manner.

Clearly Assign the Tasks

Your first priority, of course, is the identification of the knowledge and skills of the team members. You will then be able to identify who fits what tasks, thus, increasing the chances for success in work performance.

Once you have the task assignments on hand, your next step is to ensure that each person understands the roles and responsibilities associated with the tasks assigned to them. Your effective communication skills will come into play here. You should also encourage them to ask questions about the tasks, thus, lessening the risks for vague understanding.

The assigned tasks should be as specific as possible by providing for specific details about the following:

  • Type of tasks
  • Deadline of the tasks
  • Results expected from the tasks

Being specific applies whether the tasks are given via email, via task management software or via verbal instructions although getting the assignments in writing is always recommended for accountability purposes. Be willing to listen to possible changes in the task assignments while also getting clear acknowledgement from the teams that they accept the responsibility.

Describe the Performance Evaluation Process

Objective evaluation of the work performance is always the preferred method among managers for many reasons, such as the avoidance of perceptions of injustice in giving credit where credit is due. Your team’s performance should be evaluated based on the agreed parameters, such as what results are expected, when these are expected, and how these results should be reported.

You should ideally avoid using your title and its power in assigning the tasks, setting the goals, and evaluating the performance. You are more likely to get the desired results by using persuasion, encouragement and reward, instead of the whip, so to speak.

Give the Authority for Task Completion

With accountability comes authority – and this applies to task delegation. You have to give the team member to whom the tasks were assigned to the right level of authority for task completion, a task that in itself requires the right judgment; too much authority and the team may be stepping on toes, too little authority and the team may be limited in his actions. You should consider matters of seniority, budget and decision-making authority in this regard.

Establish a Tracking System

The tracking system should ideally be simple, direct and concise regardless of the size of the project at hand. The best tracking system or task management system:

  • Collects relevant information
  • Provides tools for initial analysis (i.e., computation) of the work progress
  • Allows both the manager and team to make inputs on the tracking system
  • Alerts the team and manager about the tasks that are nearing deadlines, exceeding budgets, and other issues

Establish the Reward System

Employees should ideally be rewarded for a job well done, even when the reward comes in non-monetary form. You must tell your teams about the positive and negative consequences for their satisfactory or poor performance, respectively.

This is an important step in the achievement of the goals of the assigned tasks. Keep in mind that rewards motivate people while the knowledge of the risks makes them work smarter, if not harder, as well as reinforce their sense of accountability for their actions.

Monitor the Team’s Work

Monitoring is not synonymous to micromanaging, far from it. Instead, you will check the progress of the team’s work in terms of the timeline, milestones, budget and quality of the work in relation to the agreed parameters. You should only identify issues and provide solutions as these occur especially when the team cannot seem to handle it or it is in your authority to do so.

When monitoring the work:

  • Ask about the progress and ask for proof, when possible.
  • Make regular monitoring sessions instead of terrorising the staff with surprise inspections.
  • Avoid nagging the team about the littlest details since the idea behind delegation is the opportunity to oversee the bigger picture instead of being bogged down by the smallest details.

Listen to the Teams

Even when the tasks assigned were clearly outlined and the teams accepted the assigned tasks unequivocally, there will be problems along the way. You must then be able to listen to your team members about the issues that may affect the achievement of the desired results and, in the process, make the appropriate changes. Your flexibility is a must in this instance; keep your eyes on the prize while also making the changes to get your hands on it, so to speak.

Unfortunately, there will be times when a team cannot deliver on the desired results. You should then be able to take corrective action as soon as possible or as soon the situation demands it, especially in high-risk, high-cost, and time-limited tasks. You must still voice out your worries about such failure but also provide the concerned team with the right action plan to remedy the situation.

When the assigned tasks have been completed as expected, you must deliver on your promise of reward, thank the team, and establish more trust.