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Get a handle on delegation

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Whilst we may have heard it – and even said it ourselves – before, the attitude that: ‘It’ll take longer to explain to someone else how to do it, so it’s easier if I just do it myself,’ is not one that is generally productive in today’s collaborative business contexts.

So says Denise Fryer, Programme Director for the Henley Business School Developing Management Practice (DMP) programme, who sees a range of perspectives in the way that participants deal with this thorny issue.

‘Two of the key aspects you might consider initially are whether you are actually doing your own job effectively, and why delegating is needed in the first place; these points are oddly overlooked in so many cases. But as well as maximising time efficiency, it could be a way of developing the skills of your individual team members and the team as a whole, building morale, and ensuring that the best person is being used for any particular job.’

Self-awareness leads to better utilisation of team capabilities

‘A part of a good delegation process is understanding the capabilities of your team members, but the process often needs to start closer to home, so a part of our programme looks at your own individual styles, and this assessment instils an essential self-awareness that will enable you to be more objective about your strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of where delegation would yield positive benefits.

‘We also consider the reasons why you tend not to delegate, such as control freakery, lack of resource, or the illusion that you have no time to train people. Of course, you have to have trust and confidence in the capability of all the team members, which means the recruitment or development process that creates those teams has to be sound.’

Clarity and communication are the keys

‘Clearer planning and better communication will usually help to overcome the panic to get things done quickly,’ says Denise, ‘but there are occasions when delegation can be counter-productive, and we need to recognise those scenarios too. The DMP programme looks at a range of issues to help managers find positive solutions.

‘Expectations have to be clearly defined from the outset, and they must be realistic. All parties must be clear about what success will look like. Sometimes you may need to define the process, but often, it might be sufficient to define the outcome, and allow the delegate to find a way to achieve it. Either way, everyone also needs to know how and when progress will be reviewed.

‘But when it’s used to best effect, delegation becomes a powerful tool for building performance across a team, and in such a competitive environment, neither you – nor your organisation – can afford to ignore it.’

For more information about Henley’s Developing Management Practice programme click here

Published 14 July 2017

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