In this article Susanne Madsen explains: what is delegation in project management and how to practise it effectively, thoughtfully, and with success. Based on decades of experience she shares with you her guidelines for delegating authority, responsibility, tasks and more to become a better manager or project management leader.
What is Delegation in Management?
In order to become a highly effective and truly successful project management leader you must focus on the areas that make the most difference to the success of your project.
These areas include risk and issue management, project planning, managing senior stakeholders, ensuring quality of the end product, and leading and motivating the team. Delegating lower level administrative tasks and detailed planning is important if you want to spend your time effectively.
By delegating, not only do you free yourself up to focus on what is really important, you also help grow and develop other people. When you delegate correctly, you motivate and stretch the person you are delegating to, and you contribute to his or her professional development needs, confidence, and competence.
Many project managers don’t delegate because they believe that they either have no one to delegate to or they don’t want to lose control of a certain task.
You need to think more broadly, creatively, and strategically. Often team members are perfectly able to perform a task—for instance, one related to detailed planning and estimation—if they are given the opportunity and the right amount of support.
‘If you want the job done right, you have to delegate it properly’
How to be Effective at Delegation in Management?
The following guidelines illustrate: what is delegation in management and how you delegate effectively and thoughtfully.
To delegate effectively, be conscious about what you delegate, who you delegate to, and how you delegate. Keep the following in mind:
Use Pareto’s Principle – Never delegate the 20 percent of tasks that contribute to 80 percent of your results. Delegate tasks that are not sensitive or high risk and that you are not particularly attached to. Choose tasks that someone else could potentially perform better than you can.
Delegate tracking and administrative tasks – Delegate tasks such as time sheet approval, financial tracking, taking minutes, documenting procedures and solutions, weekly reporting, creating newsletters, and keeping the document repository up-to-date.
Engage a project administrator – Get a dedicated project administrator or support person on board on a part time or full time basis. Some organizations have a centralized project management office (PMO) that might be able to offer additional help and support.
Delegate entire roles – Delegate specific roles such as test management, implementation management, analysis and detailed planning of particular products, work streams, or work packages. On a small project, you will double up and take on these roles yourself, but on a large project, it’s essential that you delegate them.
Challenge, stretch and motivate – In deciding who to delegate to, ask yourself how much the particular task will challenge, stretch, and motivate the person to whom you plan to delegate. What’s in it for him? In which ways will this assignment contribute to his success and help him develop his skills and capabilities?
Check people’s availability – Be clear on how much time the person who you want to delegate to is able to commit. How much time would be required to complete the task –or role, and how could the person be freed up to work for you? How would taking on the task you are delegating affect his or her other work priorities?
Verify the person’s competence – Before you delegate, check how competent the person is. What are his expertise and skills in areas such as planning, tracking, communication, and time management? The person’s competence will determine how much direction he needs from you.
Verify the person’s commitment – Before you delegate, find out how committed the person is to whom you want to delegate. How motivated, confident, and driven is he? His commitment will determine how much moral support he needs from you.
When people are both competent and committed you can manage them by exception and tell them to get back to you if they have a problem.
Take time to think through the job – Decide exactly what you want to delegate and which results you want. Determine the performance standards you are going to measure the job against, as well as a schedule and a deadline. Remember to make the outcome as measurable as possible.
Hand over the entire task – Seek to hand over the entire task to the person you are delegating to. Explain what is to be done and the reason for doing the task in the first place. Check in with the team member regularly to see how he is getting on. Gradually step back when you see that he is mastering the task.
Provide support and direction – Give people the time, support, direction, and information required to succeed. Be patient, and do not look for mistakes. We were all trainees once and had to learn from someone more experienced. It is your support and direction, more than anything else that determines how successful you are at delegating.
Final thought – People used to say, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to do it yourself’. But that is old-school thinking. The modern approach is to say, ‘If you want the job done right, you have to delegate it properly’.
Further Reading about: What is Delegation in Management and How to do it Effectively
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