Delegation

Bill Kinnon is right. Management hack: The sweet spot of delegation by Slacker Manager is a "strangely symmetrical" posting, and one worth reading.

Let's look at what Slacker Manager has to say.

1. Defining delegation. 

Managers can delegate a lot of their work (in theory, at least), but they can’t give away their ultimate responsibility for that work. Managers can bestow certain authorities, but they can’t pass off their responsibilities. Delgation isn’t the same as assignment, and that throws some folks for a loop. Since assignments are part of the job description, they can’t really be turned down (though they can certainly be botched on purpose). Delegated tasks are tasks that are part of the manager’s job description, though, so employees ought to know that they really can consider turning down delegated tasks.

What is implied here is that to be a good delegator you have to be able to create an environment of trust.  You have to trust the person to whom you are delegating responsibility, and they have to trust you that you'll not end up micro-managing them, or worse, that you are setting them up to fail. 

I know I use my scouting experience to illustrate many leadership principles, but in this case this is the very heart of the Boys Scouts leadership training method. We turn over the operation of the troop to the boys.  When we say  we are "boy-led" troop, this means that the responsibility for planning, logistics and follow through are the domain of the scouts.  It is very difficult for adults to let go, but that is exactly what happens in delegation, and what happens each week at scouts.

2. Practical Strategies for delegation.
I like that here Slacker Manager looks at delegation from the delegatee's perspective.  It is refreshing to see him say that accepting a delegated assignment is not given.  In essence, cavet emptor, buyer beward.  If you are being asked to do work that is beyond your experience, but within the realm of your abilities, you need to be very clear about what you are being asked to do. 

3.  Delegation as a leadership development strategy. 
Though he doesn't precisely put it in these terms, a manager can use delegation to develop leadership. It is a way to expand the capacity of new or young staff to handle increasingly more complex, difficult responsibilities.  The real test is whether the manager is delegating responsibility for results or for facilitating process.  If the former, the delegatee has the opportunity to learn.  If the latter, then, you may be just a busy micro-manager's gopher.

4.  Delegation risks.
There are risks. However the risks are minimized if the manager understands that the staff person still needs to be managed.

5.  Slacker Manager's Delegation Tips.

· Set context. When delegating, setting context is a great idea. Let folks know why this is important, how it’s good for them and how it’s good for others.
· Individualize. Don’t delegate willy nilly. Assess the skills of the folks available and match tasks to skills.
· Remember responsibility. Don’t forget that the responsibility for the task or project ultimately belongs to you.
· Accept the risks. ‘Nuff said.

I agree.
 

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