‘That manager can’t delegate’ is a common complaint against the ineffective manager. The senior manager will berate the junior manager for holding on to all their workload, and not appreciating that they have a team to whom they should delegate.Delegation is one of the key responsibilities of the manager, and yet some managers find it impossible to delegate and others delegate really badly.Delegation is not something that happens instantly. Delegation is the end goal of a process that every good manager works on continuously. The process is one of the manager developing the team and each team member through various stages until the time is right to delegate.Coaching the Team for Delegation
The aim of the effective manager is to know when his or her team or team members are ready for delegation. The good manager will not just wait for this moment to arrive. The manager is coaching their team and team members through various stages to prepare them for the time for delegation.
The manager will work with each person through the stages of development:The first stage is directive or telling. The manager will clearly state what is expected, the procedures and protocols and will expect the team member to follow these guidelines. The manager will give feedback on performance and areas for improvement.
The second stage is the coaching stage, where the manager is encouraging their reports to think for themselves. The manager will ask prompting questions to guide the person, and will reinforce or correct appropriately. The aim is to develop and guide the team member. The manager wishes to build up both their knowledge and experience, and their ability to make good judgements.
During this stage, the manager ensures that the person he or she is coaching has a full understanding of the business, and the management ethos of the company. This helps them make decisions and take action in a way that is aligned with the business.
The third stage is mentoring. The manager now frames the issue for the team member, and asks the team member to develop solutions. The manager will work through the stages with the team member, ensuring they are on track, but this is more of a reporting in scenario that a coaching one. The manager will agree the issue, and the reporting methods. They will agree the freedom and limitations for the staff member, how far they can go before gaining the approval of the manager.
The fourth stage is delegation. When the manager has coached the team member sufficiently, and has good reporting systems in place, the manager will delegate a project or an area of responsibility to the team member. Delegation is where the entire project or area of responsibility is handed over to the person. The manager trusts the judgement of the staff member, and trusts the effectiveness of the reporting system.The manager will clearly agree what decisions can be made entirely by the team member, which decisions must be approved before action, and which decisions will remain in the hands of the manager.The same four stages apply to delegating to the team, or to project groups within the team. When the stages are worked through carefully, the manager can be confident when to delegate and will find it much easier to delegate effectively.