The ART of delegation – 3 things leaders need to give

Why do you delegate? Is it because you’re busy and can’t get everything done? Is it because you want to give someone else an opportunity to develop? Is it a bit of both? Whatever your reason, delegation is an ART and, like any art form, it can be appealing or not!

In this month’s blog, I’ll look at the three aspects that make delegation an ART and what you can do as the ARTist to create an appealing delegation scenario.

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Whenever I am working with leadership theories and models, I try and create a mnemonic, or memory aid, to help me easily remember key elements. (This comes in very handy as I work with many organisations so I create words to help me remember their Values. Clients are impressed that I can recall the values more easily than their employees can!)

So, my mnemonic for delegation is ART. When delegating a task, for whatever reason, you need to give the individual three things:

Authority
Responsibility & Resources
Trust

Remember, when delegating, your job is to set the person up for success and ART will help you consider the factors that will help them to achieve that success.

A – Authority

One of the key things to consider is the level of authority you need to give the individual. How much authority do they need to take decisions and successfully complete the task independently?

In Julie Turner’s blog on the 7 Steps to Successful Delegation, she introduced a helpful model for talking through the level of authority that you give your team member.

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GO – what can they simply get on with without the need to refer to you or even tell you about?
GO then let KNOW – what would you like to be kept informed about and how?
YES then GO – what do they need to check with you before taking action?
NO GO – what do you not want them to do?

Talking this through will clarify their level of authority and will give them confidence knowing what they can and can’t do or make decisions about.

R – Responsibility and Resources

What does giving responsibility mean? A dictionary definition “the ability or authority to act or decide on one's own, without supervision” is really helpful for me because it highlights the fact that it’s down to the individual to achieve the task, not you!

Remember that you’re only giving responsibility, you remain accountable for the overall outcome of the activity. In other words, you are answerable for the resuIts: the buck stops here! Another reason why it’s so important to set people up for success when delegating.

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I believe that giving responsibility is also about ensuring the person knows ‘why them’; what’s the purpose of delegating the activity to them? If people are clear about this, they will be able to maximise their learning by reviewing the experience from a particular perspective, e.g. was it to raise their profile or increase their skills? The other benefit is that it increases motivation and buy in as the person understands the bigger picture and where they fit in to that.

A crucial question to ask yourself at this point is:
Who else needs to know that this person is now responsible for the activity?

Having identified who this might be, remember to let them know that this person is now the ‘go to’ person for that activity.

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What Resources does the person need to get the job done? It’s worth considering this up front so that you give them everything they need at the start and therefore they are able to complete the activity with a degree of independence once you’ve handed the responsibility over to them. Resources can include many things, not just money!

What tools and materials will they need access to? How easy it to gain access to these?
Who are the people that will help them achieve the task?
How much time do they have to complete the task?
What budget will they need?
What skills and knowledge do they personally require? How will they get these?

Finally and, for me, most importantly, it’s about:

T – Trust

Easy to say, not as easy to demonstrate. How do you demonstrate trust when delegating something?

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Personally, I think one of the best ways to demonstrate trust when delegating to someone is to let them get on with it, after you’ve handed over the Authority, Responsibility and Resources of course! Having agreed the support and control frequency, you should be able to get on with your own work and allow them to get on with theirs, confident in the knowledge that you’ve provided everything they need to be successful.

So, you’ve seen how delegation is an ART and how you can paint a picture of success with your team.

For further tips on delegation, check out Learning Curve’s other blog: How to Delegate – 7 Steps.

What tips would you like to share around delegation? What comments do you have about this blog? We’d love to hear from you so please leave any comments below.

Look out for next month’s blog on Effectiveness – Doing the Right Things.

Posted by Caroline Lewis

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