As a manager, you can perform business coaching not only to develop your staff and overcome issues which they are having, but also to benefit you! The majority of managers will have so much to do that they often struggle to find the time to do it all. This is where effective delegation can be of tremendous assistance, freeing up the manager's time and allowing them to get on with more important tasks.
One of the reasons which causes many managers to be fearful and shy away from delegating work to employees is a fear of losing control or that the employee will not do a very good job of it, causing the manager to not only take time to check it all, but then to do it all properly anyway.
This is where business coaching can play a pivotal part in the success of the delegation process however. By having business coaching meetings with employees, a manager can obtain a much greater understanding of not only the skillset of the employee, but also allows them to gauge how receptive that person would be to taking on the additional responsibility. If they are quite resistant to the idea, they will be far less likely to apply themselves fully and do a satisfactory job. Some may see it as additional work being dumped upon them and be quite opposed to the idea, whereas otherwise may view it positively as the manager trusting them with responsibility for completing an assignment which must be quite important if it was the manager's task to begin with.
So not only can performing business coaching with employees be a tool for addressing issues and implementing action plans, it can also be used to assess the attitude and willingness of people to take on tasks which the manager is looking to delegate to them, and so can help to avoid potential problems before they manifest themselves into a reality.
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Managers who are struggling to find enough time in the day to get everything done will usually know that they need to start delegating some of the work to members of their team. If these employees do not have the capability or the capacity to take on any of the tasks, the business may need to employ one or more person so that the manager can then give them some of the workload to reduce the burden upon themselves.
Whether it is an existing employee or a new person who is brought into the company with the specific intention of receiving some of the work that the manager has needed to do, the manager will need to determine which tasks are suitable to be delegated to them, and which they should really keep to do themselves.
The fundamental question that a manager will need to ask themselves, once they have used business coaching meetings to determine the person's capability and suitability for the proposed task(s) of course, is whether the time taken to explain the task and provide any required support is worth it in terms of the amount of time saved. This time does not just apply to the present, as a vast majority of tasks would take longer to explain and monitor than it would actually take for the manager to sit down and do it, but needs to consider all of the future times this task will need to be done. This short term pain for long term gain is a critical concept for both delegation and time management issues.
Along with the time aspect, there will be some types of work which are not suitable to be delegated to others, or at least not to others outside of a specific department which deals with that sort of thing. This can include work involving data of a personal nature or tasks which simply have to be done by a manager such as salary or bonus payments, planned restructuring and associated redundancies, and writing performance reviews.
When managers delegate tasks to employees the vast majority do so because they wish to free up more time so that they can concentrate their efforts on their other requirements such as making decisions which affect the whole organisation, or any of the likely multitude of other requests and demands upon their time from other employees, other managers and people external to the company.
Whilst this is a good reason for delegating, another positive benefit that comes with delegation is the fact that employees will be able to learn new skills and be able to complete more tasks.
As well as improving motivation through job enrichment and diversification, having more employees with the knowledge and ability to perform certain tasks will not only provide cover for those who are off work sick or away on holiday, but will also mean that more staff members can be called upon to work on a project. Provided that they have sufficient capacity and can either get their usual workplace duties done or are able to set them to one side for a bit, the more people that can work on a project either the quicker it will get done, or the greater the output of finished products which can be manufactured.
So by delegating to employees and affording them the opportunity to acquire the ability to do a task, they can easily be called upon when it becomes necessary for extra hands to work on a project, and can make the difference between successfully fulfilling a large order and not.
The constantly changing nature of business means that there will be times when a person will be required to change their job role within a company, either through a promotion (or possibly even a demotion), or through a sideways move from one department to another and a different set of responsibilities and duties.
Where this transition is orderly and over a period of time, rather than an emergency transition to cover a worker who has had to take time off work suddenly through illness for example, then time can be taken to ensure that the changeover causes as little disruption to normal operations as possible.
When an employee is taking over your role because you are moving onto other things either within the current organisation or are working your notice period, you will to a large extent be the one upon which the success of a smooth transition rests. Management (which may also be you) should have provided or are at least currently providing any training required to teach them the skills needed to do your job.
Your role is to provide suitable coaching to explain the various functions of the job to the person taking over from you to ensure that they are fully up to speed with what needs to be done and to give them an idea of the workload which they will face (and to give them an opportunity to pull out whilst they still can before anymore time is wasted in teaching them the ropes).
A failure to suitably prepare a person to take over a role or provide a suitable level of support during and after the transition period can result in not only poor quality work, but can also be a danger to the health and wellbeing of a worker by bringing on conditions such as stress and unhappiness at the new situation.
Business coaching before, during and after the move can tremendously assist during the settling-in period of the new person whilst they get used to their new surroundings and responsibilities, as it provides them with the opportunity to discuss problems and issues as well as creating action plans with the coach, who may also be their manager if they have been suitably trained as a business coach, which will assist the person to overcome these challenges and settle into being the effective worker in their new position which the company requires and expects.
One of the main obstacles that prevents managers from delegating tasks to employees is the fear of losing control of the task and entrusting its outcome to one of their employees. As described in the section Delegating - Finding the Right Balance further down in this article, providing too much or too little assistance/interference/input etc can prove extremely damaging to both the success of the task or project that is delegated, not to mention the relationship between the manager and the delegate.
However, many managers who are afraid of entrusting total control of the project to a subordinate do not stop to realise that they will often be able to delegate small parts of it rather than the entire thing. Those managers not comfortable with delegating to others will often focus on a project in its entirety and the potential consequences of it going wrong, without realising that instead of giving the entire thing to someone else to do, they may be able to assign tasks or functions which are necessary for its successful completion but do not mean that it is "all or nothing" with regards to an employee getting it right or wrong.
By delegating a part of the task to one person whilst retaining some for themselves, managers will often need to collaborate and work closely with that employee. This can often result in improved teamwork, as well as making the employee more comfortable when talking to the manager, which can be extremely beneficial when there is a need for effective communication in the future in the likely event of there being problems or issues to sort out.
Delegating an entire project or task all in one go can overwhelm the employee that receives it. This is most likely to occur when it is a task which they have never done before, as not only will the size of it threaten to engulf them, but the seemingly complex composition of the work required can immediately put them off and resist being given the job.
A far better delegation strategy for managers to use is, wherever possible, to delegate small components of an overall large project at a time. Rather then dumping the entire project on the employee in one fell swoop, giving them a small task at a time allows them to get used and learn how to do that piece before taking on the next part. By delegating a project in manageable increments, the employee should not feel overwhelmed and as such is unlikely to simply throw their hands up in the air and declare that they cannot possibly achieve such a major undertaking.
Taking on one piece of the project at a time will also afford employees more of an opportunity to learn about the processes/subject, not to mention learning and remembering how to do it the next time they are asked. Over time this will enable the employee to be competent and feel confident about tackling these issues and hopefully even the entire project in the future with little to no managerial input, which will provide a tremendous benefit to the manager in terms of freeing up their time and allowing them to get on with their other duties.
Combining this incremental delegation process with business coaching sessions to discuss their progress and help resolve any issues encountered will greatly aid the development of employees and relieve some of the time pressures that blight a manager as they try to run their particular department or the business as a whole.
Whilst managers are in charge and are the ones who can tell employees what to do, the reality of the situation is that without employees wanting to do a certain task it can be exceptionally difficult to actually get them to do it, or at least to get them to do it to the required standard or within a specified timeframe.
Managers will in most instances avoid delegating tasks to people that they think will complain or be most resistant to it, and instead delegate to those who are often more compliant and willing to take on the additional work, even if they do not possess the same skills, level of training or as much technical knowledge as the other employee.
This can sometimes result in this person being given too much to do which in turn makes them stressed and demotivated by feeling that they are being put upon to do all of the manager's work which they do not want to do themselves, and that it is not shared out amongst them and the other employees.
But a manager should not give up on the resistant employee. Their feelings of resistance often come about because of past experiences or a feeling that they will not be able to handle work which may be different to anything they have ever done before.
Just as training and development is important for managers to develop their skills and ability to perform actions such as delegating, so too is it important for employees to acquire new knowledge and abilities, in conjunction with hands-on experience.
The performing of business coaching can help to ascertain the precise feelings of resistance of the employee and uncover why they are so resistant to taking on additional responsibility, not to mention the creation of an action plan to help overcome their opposition. This will then allow the manager to make better use of the employee's skills on particular tasks and projects which they delegate to them.
Throughout their years of delegating, managers will often come up against employees who are resistant to taking on the task which the manager is trying to delegate to them.
The section Using Business Coaching to Overcome Resistance when Delegating above explained how business coaching can be utilised to both identify and begin to overcome the issues which are making the employee so resistant to receiving delegated work. Not only does the session provide a dedicated opportunity for these issues to be discussed directly between the employee and the manager, but also allows the manager to put the case from their side and explain why it needs to be done to benefit the company as a whole, why this specific employee has been chosen to take on the task and how the manager will allocate resources and provide support for them to successfully complete the objectives.
If the employee has had a bad experience in the past which has made them reluctant to accept delegated work, either with the company/manager they are with now or in a previous position, this is where the manager has the opportunity to state how things will be different this time in terms of steps taken.
But what if the employee is still resistant to be given work? Should the manager command them to do it? Unfortunately there is no magic answer to this, as it will depend upon a number of variables such as the employee in question, the task being delegated and whether it is essential to the success or function of the business to name just a few of the most important ones.
What is likely though is that if the employee really is adamant that they do not wish to do it, no amount of coaxing, threats, promises or pleading is likely to get them to change their mind. With the labour market being more mobile than it ever has been, an employee is quite likely to tell the manager where to stick it and leave! Plus if the task is outside of their normal employment duties there is a high risk of the company being taken to an employment tribunal.
Sometimes however a manager may be able to be firm and assertive and actually get the employee to take on the task after agreeing to certain conditions or offering incentives.
Whilst employees have more power than ever before at work, managers are still the ones who are in charge and pay employees to work for the benefit of the business, so sometimes they may be able to make the point that everybody has to do tasks which they do not enjoy but that it needs to be done for the greater good of the company.
A number of business coaching articles talk about why a manager should have regular business coaching meetings with the employee or employees that they have delegated a task to in order to discuss issues so that they can be dealt with or, more preferably, avoided in the first instance. A failure to provide any support to the employee or monitor their progress after delegating will often result in either a failed task or work which does not satisfy the expectations of the manager.
Managers need to provide support during a long project, but should also not forget that a significant determinant of the overall success or failure of the project will come with appropriate discussions at the very beginning.
Key questions for a manager to ask an employee are ones which gauge the suitability and willingness of the person to take on the additional responsibilities, but also to ask and discuss with them what resources they believe they will require in order to successfully carry out the project. Not only does this allow the employee to put forward suggestions regarding requirements that the manager may have forgotten to consider, but it will also provide them with a greater sense of ownership, responsibility and ultimately a determination for the project to succeed if they feel that the manger trusts them and value their opinion regarding what is needed rather than simply providing them with a finite amount of resources which they have chosen for the person and telling them to get on with it.
This is one of the most significant properties of business coaching in that not only can it be used to discuss and resolve issues, but it can also be a powerful motivational tool which really empowers and motivates workers by making them feel like they are to a certain extent masters of their own destiny in terms of tackling the project which has been delegated to them.
Delegating tasks to employees has a number of benefits for managers in terms of freeing up their time and allowing their staff members to acquire and develop knowledge and skills which can be called upon if needed at a later date, and could be particularly useful in times of crises or a large project which has a tight completion deadline.
Along with these advantages, delegating tasks to employees usually allows them a degree of autonomy and extra responsibility, which it is well-known that for the majority of employees will result in an increase in motivation and a desire for the project, for which they have ownership of to a large extent, to be a success.
By setting broad guidelines and occasionally monitoring their progress to check that they are on the right lines, managers will enable and empower employees to be creative and use their own initiative to complete a task or find a solution to the problem which they have been set. Providing them with business coaching will also give them a dedicated forum where they can discuss through any issues they may be having and also bounce ideas off the business coach which they could utilise to further achieve the goals and objectives set.
A combination of business coaching and delegation will greatly improve and develop a worker or group of workers, who will then be an even greater asset to the organisation in terms of being able to help it achieve its long-term ambitions and targets. So rather than simply a method of freeing up time for a manager, delegation can be seen in the same light as training and development and used in conjunction with business coaching programmes.
Delegating tasks and projects to employees can be viewed by both managers and those employees alike as the manager simply passing work which they do not want to do themselves onto one of their workers to do for them. However, true delegation when it is combined with business coaching should provide an opportunity for the employee to acquire or develop certain skills and to take on more responsibility than they otherwise have in their current job role within the company. Rather than being just an opportunity to shift work from the manager's desk onto someone else's, delegating tasks can be viewed more in the bracket of staff training and development.
However this can only be sufficiently achieved if workers are given enough support before, during and after the particular task or project. Being given something to do with little or no explanation of the requirements is likely to result in completed work that does not fulfil the criteria which the manager wanted or expected. Also, employees who receive delegated work as part of a development plan are likely to need additional training and support so that they have enough knowledge to correctly carry out the task. Simply designating the task to them and expecting them to acquire the skills on their own as they go along will often result in failure, demotivation, and a rise in stress levels and worker unhappiness as they feel they are being given something outside of their job specification which they are unable to cope with.
The utilisation of business coaching sessions at all stages of the project in question will allow managers and the employee to identify which skill sets and areas of knowledge where the person requires training in order to improve in these subjects. These meetings also serve as a time for periodic reviews where the manager can ensure that the employee is still fulfilling the objectives required of the task, as well as allowing the employee the opportunity to discuss any issues that they may be encountering and any additional training or resources they require in order to achieve the set goals.
Initial business coaching meetings at the planning stage of the project which allow the employee to provide a valuable and meaningful input will greatly increase their sense of involvement, and subsequently their commitment and determination to achieving the task. Collaborating with employees rather that simply assigning them a task to do will significantly improve the probability of the task being completed to a high standard.
The art of delegating is something which can take many years to master. Even then it may still be beyond many managers to delegate tasks to their employees properly and effectively. As well as the need to delegate the right tasks and communicate them appropriately, not to mention using business coaching or informal meetings to determine their capability and capacity, successful delegation owes an enormous amount to the manager finding the right balance regarding how much of an input they themselves should have.
A manager who has little to no contact with the employee after initially delegating the task to them is likely to sooner rather than later find that the employee may be going down a different path than the manager requires, and so may be producing something which does not satisfy the criteria that the manager wishes or was expecting. This is probably the greatest fear that managers have and is the primary reason for many choosing not to delegate or only delegate very simple, mundane tasks. It is why those that do delegate become overly cautious and act in the manner described in the paragraph below.
More common than providing too little attention or communication, many managers who delegate feel the need to constantly monitor and check on the progress of their employees. They are afraid that the employee will do it wrong, which will reflect badly upon the manager as others will say that they had ultimate responsibility for the project, and/or that the manager will themselves have to do the task themselves anyway if the employee screws it up, by which point a lot of time will have been wasted.
As a result they will want to ensure that the employee is doing things right first time. However, constantly looking over their shoulder and checking up on their progress will soon give off the impression that they are not trusted by the manager to do the task correctly. Also, the manager may be constantly chipping in with advice, or be even more direct by telling the employee what should be done at every little stage. This can be particularly damaging to the employee's morale and motivation, especially if it is a task such as a creative one where the employee wishes to use their own creativity and ideas but is prevented from doing so by the manager telling them how it should be done, or rather how they want it to be done.
Successful delegation depends upon determining the happy medium between too much and too little attention and communication. Whilst too little managerial input is likely to lead to incorrect work or a feeling from the employee that the manager does not care very much and so what they are doing is unimportant, too much interference can lead to resentment and demotivation, as well as the employee feeling that they are not trusted.
So whilst neither end of this spectrum is desirable where delegation is concerned, finding the correct balance will allow for managers to delegate tasks to employees which will keep them happy whilst freeing up more time for the manager to get on with other things. Finding this balance is a skill that only the best managers learn and are capable of applying. This level will vary slightly depending upon the task in question and the personality of the employee, which means that the truly great managers will be able to determine how much, or how little, attention to pay when they have delegated a task.
A large part of the success of delegation is due to the nature of the tasks that are being delegated. For employees to be motivated to complete the work and gain the sense that they are being trusted with responsibility, it is important that the tasks that are delegated to them reflect this. If they are just given small, meaningless jobs they will probably begin to lose motivation and feel like the manager is simply dumping their boring tasks onto them. If they have been employed as an assistant with a clear understanding beforehand that this would be the case they should not be too surprised, but if they are supposed to be doing something else and find themselves taking on the tasks that the manager cannot be bothered with, they will rapidly become unhappy.
The way that the tasks are delegated can also play a big part in the motivation and desire of the employee to take them on, which obviously has a great effect upon the quality and thoroughness of their work. If they are simply dumped onto the employee's desk with no further checks or input until it is finished, the employee will soon feel disgruntled as they will feel that what they are working on is unimportant and that the manager does not really care about it or what they do. If however the manager takes a little time to explain its importance to them and the company, and occasionally checks on progress without constantly looking over the staff member's shoulder, the employee will feel like what they are working on has tremendous value and as a result is likely to work diligently and effectively at the task in question.
Training and training courses often go hand in hand with delegating tasks, as various aspects of delegation can require training in order to succeed, or to provide a person with the ability to complete a task/project to an even higher standard than could otherwise be achieved.
For managers, particularly those new to management, delegating tasks to employees can frequently be quite a frightening prospect and a concept which in some ways goes against their natural managerial instincts of being in total control and being the one who makes all of the decisions.
Whilst managers should still perform some degree of checking to ensure that the employee is not going off track and producing work which does not fulfil the manager's requirements or expectations, it is important that they find the right balance when it comes to delegation between too much interference and scrutinising, and too little.
This makes delegation a particularly tricky skill to master or even become semi-proficient in, meaning that management training courses which either focus exclusively on how to delegate effectively or include it as part of a wider management training course syllabus can be indispensable for any manager whether they are new to the position or even one with some experience already.
It will not just be managers though who may require and will benefit from training. Employees may not have all of the necessary knowledge or skills to successfully complete a project. In this case, attending training courses which teach them the relevant information are a must before the manager can delegate the task to them.
The skills and knowledge required will vary tremendously depending on the particular tasks that are delegated, but can include requirements for knowledge in areas such as health and safety, financial issues, human resources management, legal matters... the possibilities are virtually endless. It is the responsibility of managers to match the skills of workers to the tasks required, or make provisions for them to attend training courses in order for them to acquire the necessary skills.
Training is a subject which is closely related to that of delegating. Not only will a manager benefit from management training courses which teach them about delegating as well as associated skills such as time management and effective communication, but employees too may need training if it is necessary to use skills or knowledge which they do not currently possess to complete new tasks.
For example an employee whom the manager has delegated the organisation of health and safety procedures is likely to need some sort of health and safety knowledge. If they currently possess little or none, they will need to attend a health and safety training course to learn about necessary information such as hazards, risk assessments, accident investigation, reporting procedures and safety control measures to name but a few.
Without this knowledge they will not be able to perform as effectively or complete the project to the standard required by the manager. They are also likely to become frustrated or feel out of their depth if they do not fully-understand what is being expected of them.
By engaging in business coaching with an employee, a manager will be able to determine what knowledge and skill sets are lacking or need improving before a particular task can be delegated to them. It will identify their training needs for future development with the intention of taking on additional challenges and tasks within the business, which includes having tasks delegated to them by the manager. Whilst it may require them to take time away from the workplace in order to receive the training, in the long term it will be worth it.
Sometimes managers will try and tackle an entire task or project themselves, either because they are afraid of "losing control" of it or are worried that the overall quality or accuracy of the finished project will not be of a sufficient standard. However in the section A Manager Does Not Need to Delegate a Complete Task above, we saw that it is not necessary, and is even inadvisable in most cases, for a manager to delegate a task or project in its entirety to an employee. Instead it can often be far more productive and beneficial for them to delegate just a small part of it.
This is especially true when an employee has a particular set of skills or attributes which makes them ideal and highly proficient in a certain area or aspect of the project. For example a worker who is particularly diligent and has a knack for collecting, handling and processing large quantities of data will be perfect for the data collection part of a project and presenting it into an easy-to-understand format, from which the manager can then take over and use it for the analysis and recommendations section of a report.
By utilising the skills of others that are better suited to the particular requirements of a task or component of a project, the overall quality of the finished project is likely to be far higher than if either the manager or the employee tried to complete the whole thing on their own. This collaboration will often lead to an improved working relationship between manager and employee and allow for enhanced cooperation and team working on future projects.
After overcoming some of the difficulties which come with delegating work to employees such as getting over the fear that they are somehow losing control of the project or how to match up the work to the right person, a manager needs to ensure that they do not inadvertently (or perhaps sometimes they may be doing it intentionally) delegate everything to one person or to a select few, as this can result in a number of problems.
First off, the ones that are receiving all of the work may begin to feel like everything is being dumped onto them. Not only can they become demotivated if they feel the manager is taking advantage of them by pushing all of their work onto them, but it may become the case that these employees do not have the time to actually do their own work that they need to get on with before having to do the work which the manager has delegated to them.
These workers are likely to be the ones that the manager trusts the most and believes them to be the most capable at completing these and other tasks. This makes it even more imperative that they do not risk making them unhappy and pushing them towards looking for alternative employment by delegating too much to them and causing them to becoming stressed or resent having to do everything which they consider outside of their job role.
In contrast to these employees, those who do not receive anything from the manager or are only given trivial, unimportant tasks may feel that the manager does not trust them or does not believe in their abilities and capability to undertake the tasks to a sufficient standard. This can cause them to become demotivated which is likely to affect their motivation and the quality of their current work.
So managers need to pay close attention to not only what they delegate, but also to whom they are giving the work as giving too much to some and little or nothing to others can lead to problems later on down the line.
Aside from the other many benefits of delegating tasks to employees, one of the strongest is that by doing a variety of different tasks, workers will acquire new skills and be able to complete these tasks again in the future. The more people that are able to carry out and accomplish these responsibilities, the less likelihood that a major problem will occur if the only person or persons that can do it are off sick or on holiday, as this can bring entire operations and processes to a grinding halt, and can be particularly damaging if it is something like creating and sending out invoices or processing payments for example.
Not only can having more people with the ability to perform certain tasks reduce the likelihood of the above scenario, but it will also allow the manager to identify which employees are best at different tasks and allow them to delegate specific work to the ones whose skill sets and attributes provide the best match to the particular requirements and demands of the job. This should result in a better overall quality of the finished project and reduce the likelihood of any mistakes or errors being made.
Another benefit is that most employees will often be thankful for a bit of job diversification and the opportunity to work on something new instead of doing the same thing that they do every day, which will lead to an increase in their motivation. Managers also need to keep in mind though that not every employee will respond well to this, as some may resent being given what they perceive to be "additional work" and being taken out of their normal, comfortable routine. This individuality of employees and the fact that they will each react differently is one of the most important considerations and issues for any manager to deal with (Related Business Coaching Article: Rewards, Resentment and Embarrassment).
We have already seen earlier in this article that a crucial part of successfully delegating an entire project or part of one is to match up the task with the right employee. This will be the one who not only has the knowledge and attributes suitable for such as task, but also someone who has the spare time and capacity to actually do the required work to an acceptable standard and within the timeframe set. For more information on this see the section below entitled Delegating - Capability and Capacity.
Along with these requirements though there is also a need for the employee to actually have an interest and want to do the tasks being delegated to them. Whilst some will argue that managers are the ones in charge and that employees should do whatever they are told, in reality the happiness and motivation of workers is more important now than ever with it being far easier to switch jobs than it was say a hundred years ago when the labour market was much less mobile. This means that managers need to pay close attention to the happiness and willingness of workers to do particular tasks. Even if an employee is not considering leaving, a worker who does not embrace the work being delegated to them will often complete it slowly and to a lesser quality than someone who is happy to receive it and care more about its successful achievement.
Many managers use business coaching sessions to ascertain not only the capabilities of their employees but also their interests in particular areas of the business and their subsequent willingness to take on additional work and responsibilities. Along with resolving issues, this is another great advantage of business coaching and highlights its tremendous worth to an organisation in terms of getting the best out of its employees.
As well as communicating the desired outcomes effectively and being able to step back and let an employee get on with doing the task without constantly hovering over their shoulder and butting in with suggestions, two additional factors which are necessary for successful delegation are the employee's capability and capacity. Engaging in business coaching meetings with the employee can be employed to determine the status of both of these criteria before delegating a task to them, and so avoid such issues occurring.
Capability refers to the ability of the person to achieve the task delegated to them to the standard required by the manager. Often this will depend upon criteria such as their knowledge of the product/topic/market or whatever is necessary for the completion of the task. It may also depend on their characteristics and attributes such as their ability to concentrate on complex subjects, attention to detail, presentation skills... In fact, the list is virtually infinite as every task that can be delegated will require different skillsets and attributes to complete them successfully.
Capacity refers to the amount of time that the employee has to do the additional work which is delegated to them over and above their normal duties from their job role. If they do not have the spare capacity they are not likely to either complete the project at all or to a suitable standard if they do not have the available time, even if they have the capability to achieve it. A lack of capacity will result in the project or task being rushed to try and get it done within the available time, which will often result in mistakes and sub-standard work.
Effective communication is a fundamental requirement in making the process of delegating tasks to employees function as intended. For starters, managers need to communicate what the desired outcome for the project is, otherwise the employee is likely to do things according to how they think that they should be done. Whilst it is important to allow the employee freedom to use their own creativity and initiative, particularly if the task is a design project or similar, the manager should not attempt to spell out every last detail and exactly how to do the task. If this happens, the employee will not feel like they are trusted or receive much of a boost in motivation that would come with feeling empowerment from taking on new responsibilities.
Business coaching sessions are a perfect forum for this communication process to take place. Whilst initial business coaching meetings allow managers to assess the willingness and suitability of the employee to carry out an assignment, regular get-togethers like this will not only allow the manager to keep a check on progress without appearing too controlling or stifling, but will also allow the manager and employee to discuss issues which the employee is having and suitable action plans to remedy the situation, which is one of the primary purposes of business coaching.
Communication before and during the delegation process allows potential problems to either be avoided before they become a reality or quickly resolved. A failure to communicate often results in incorrect work taking place, which means wasted time and frustration for all concerned.
When delegating a task to an individual or group of employees/team, a manager will need to take the time initially to explain certain criteria to them before they start, otherwise there is a great danger of the project being completed not to the desired outcome or standard that the manager hoped for.
Whilst managers need to find the right balance between too much interference and not enough, a failure to make clear the exact parameters and requirements of the project will almost certainly result in it being doomed from the beginning. If employees are not made aware of what is expected, they will not know what the end goal and objective is, which means they will find it difficult to work out what they should be doing and will often end up with an end product that is different to what the manager wanted.
Not only do managers need to explain what they would like, but it is also highly beneficial for them to explain to workers the purpose for doing it and how the project is important for the success of the organisation. By doing this, particularly if it is a particularly onerous or menial task, workers are more likely to do it because they can understand how they are contributing to the business and that what they are doing is important and has value, otherwise they may feel that they are being punished or that there is no point in doing whatever it is they have been tasked with.
In this initial pre-commencement description managers can also make employees aware of any constraints that they must work within such as time or budget pressures. If these are not spelt out and made clear at the start, the workers may go over them and cause a problem for the manager to sort out later on.
One of the thorniest issues regarding delegation is how much checking or monitoring the manager should do once they have delegated a project or task to an employee. So much attention is often paid by a manager who is trying hard to find the appropriate balance between too much and not enough checking and monitoring that they forget that most of the problems which can occur do so because of a lack of initial understanding by the employee as to what the manager requires. Whilst different employees will go about tasks in different ways, and there will usually be more than one way to go about it, there will more often than not be certain objectives and criteria which need to be satisfied in order for the delegated project to be deemed a success.
It is therefore essential that managers ask an employee if they understand the requirements of the task. This should be done in an open-ended way, such as asking the person to explain their understanding of the task and the requirements. This is far more beneficial than asking a closed-ended question which requires a yes or no answer, as the employee may believe they understand what is being asked of them and say yes, when in actual fact it is different to what the manager actually wants. By asking an open-ended question and getting the person to explain their understanding, it allows the manager to check that the employee does indeed share the same objectives and that there is much less chance of them going off at a tangent with work which is delegated to them to complete. This reduces the chances of wasted time and resources, not to mention potential embarrassment and demotivation that is likely to come about if the employee came to the end and discovered that they did not fulfil the objectives, requirements and expectations of their manager.
Delegating involves a manager assigning tasks to an employee that they would otherwise have to do themselves. Not only does this create more time for the manager to concentrate on other more important subjects, but it can also be a powerful motivational tool when utilised correctly as the employee feels trusted by the manager to take on this additional responsibility. This can make the employee feel more valued, and subsequently raise their performance levels and desire to help the company succeed, which obviously makes them a valuable asset to the organisation.
Many managers struggle to "let go" and make use of delegating. Either that or they only delegate simple, mundane jobs which certainly do not instil a feeling of responsibility within the person being given the task as they feel they are just getting the rubbish to sort out that the manager cannot be bothered with.
Even if they do manage to delegate an important task the vast majority of managers will keep a constant watch over an employee's progress and frequently offer their opinion or even specifically state what should be done. Although this will keep them on track, it will not motivate them as they are not allowed to think for themselves, nor will it instil any sense of taking responsibility, ownership and initiative for themselves.
The whole point of delegating tasks in the first place is to free up manager's time by enabling others to do the work. If the manager spends the whole time watching the person doing the work they may as well have done it themselves! Also, by creating a controlling atmosphere where the employee has to ask and check every minor detail with the manager rather than thinking for themselves, it will certainly not free-up the manager's time in the long-run.
For delegation to be successful, the manager needs to strike the right balance between too much interference and not enough guidelines and clear communication of them.
The top complaint that most employees will have when they are delegated a project or task to complete will be about managers who are constantly checking up on them or trying to control every little aspect rather than letting the worker get on with the task as they see fit, otherwise known as micromanaging. Whilst it is important that managers do keep an eye on how the project is progressing, too much interference and micromanagement can result in a highly frustrated employee who will begin to wonder why the manager doesn't just do the task themselves in the first place!
We have seen in the section Checking Understanding After Delegating above how necessary it is for a manager to ensure at the outset that the employee has fully understood what is being asked of them, and that their understanding of the objectives matches the manager's desired outcomes, so that the project gets off to a productive beginning. However it is important that this is not the end of the scrutiny. Whilst too much checking and interference can be detrimental, so too can too little as not only does it allow for employees to start going off at a tangent, but it can also give them the impression that the manager does not care or does not view what they are doing as overly important if they cannot be bothered to check on progress. (See section above: Delegating - Finding The Right Balance).
Checking on progress after delegating a task is a delicate issue with regards to the amount of interference and supervision, and managers need to discover the optimum balance in accordance with the task and the particular employee in question, as some will appreciate or at least tolerate more instruction and interference than others. This managerial skill is something which can take many years of experience and management training to acquire, and even then it is unlikely that a person can ever truly master it as different employees will react in different ways, so what works well with one may not work at all for another.
Perhaps the most effective way for a manager to check and monitor progress without appearing overbearing or too controlling is to schedule regular business coaching meetings where the employee and the manager come together to discuss the status of the delegated project. Because they are scheduled in advance at a regular interval, it does not give the impression that the manager is concerned and has called an impromptu meeting, or that they have just randomly chosen to interfere. The frequency of these meetings can be adjusted to suit the level of experience of the employee and the complexity or importance of the project which has been delegated to them.
The scheduling of regular business coaching meetings after delegating a particular project has numerous benefits in terms of keeping an employee on track and allowing the manager the opportunity to monitor the progress of the individual (or team if it is an especially large task requiring more than one person to work on it).
These sessions are scheduled in advance at regular intervals and provide a dedicated forum and environment for the manager and the employee(s) to discuss progress and any issues which may have been encountered or may possibly occur further down the road. Because they are pre-scheduled at the start of the task, the employee should not feel as if they are being micromanaged by a manager who wants to be involved in and dictate how to do every little task that makes up the project as a whole.
Along with greatly contributing towards the prevention of the employee going off at a tangent, these business coaching sessions also create accountability and a point in time for the employee to have done a certain element or task. The implementation of regular meeting points means that they cannot procrastinate or put off doing something, as the manager will want to know why it has not been done in the next review meeting.
At these meetings, managers need to provide positive feedback for tasks or elements done when it is warranted. Employees that have been praised and been given positive feedback will feel like what they have done has been appreciated and recognised, and so will be more willing to work hard on the next task or element.
It is all very well for a manager to delegate a task to an employee, but it is highly likely that the task or project will require more than simply the employee's time and attention. Particularly for large projects, there will be a need for the allocation of resources to enable to employee to carry out the task effectively. These can include financial requirements such as purchasing additional materials, letting the employee utilise the skills and time of additional members of staff, and letting them complete any additional training that may be needed to complete the task either at all or to a higher standard that can be achieved currently.
Engaging in business coaching before and during the task will allow the employee and the manager to discuss what additional resources are required. If it is not possible to provide them, the manager can use this opportunity to explain why not to the employee which will be far better in terms of preventing a drop in morale than if they simply told them no without any further explanation.
A failure to assign any necessary resources after delegating a task can result not only in a project that is not completed either at all or on time, as well as an employee who becomes frustrated and demotivated when they are unable to complete the set objectives. If this happens they are unlikely to be willing to take on additional tasks in the future after this negative experience.
Business coaching and regular meetings will allow managers and employee(s) to discuss and collaborate over any issues or resource requirements that are needed, greatly increasing the chances of a successful outcome to the task or project.
After the completion of a particular project or task, having an evaluation and de-briefing meeting between the manager and those who worked on the project can provide a number of benefits not only for the company, but also in terms of the development of employees.
By sitting down and openly and honestly discussing the success or failure of the project in terms of the desired goals and intended outcomes, the group as a whole can determine what was done well and what could have gone better. This will allow them to highlight the areas where current practices are working and need to be maintained, and the issues which need to be worked on to improve or not repeat the same mistakes again in the future. By continually learning from the past, a company can improve and enhance its service and reputation amongst its customers. These evaluation meetings should not be an opportunity to attribute blame or be allowed to turn into a shouting match, but instead a forum to objectively discuss what happened with the target of improving the process for next time so as to benefit the organisation.
As for the employees themselves, they will often have the opportunity in these meetings to develop their proficiency in areas such as analytical skills, assertiveness, team working and communication.
A manager too will find that this develops their skills by improving their listening ability, delegating tasks which have come about as a result of the meeting such as putting a worker in charge of improving a process that was deemed insufficient, their decision making, and their own communication skills with how they convey points to their workers.
These meetings are a perfect supplement to any one-to-one business coaching that takes place between the manager and employees as it will all contribute to the development of their own personal skills and their ability in certain areas. It also provides an opportunity for a manager to learn a great deal about their employees and their particular abilities.
The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.Find Out More
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