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What is Delegation?

‘Delegation can be defined as giving work to another member of staff.  It is a process of entrusting authority and responsibility for a particular task.’

The chosen member of staff makes the decision rather than just carrying out their manager’s detailed instructions.  However, the accountability for any task, even when it has been delegated, always remains with the delagator.  Note that there is a distinction between the delegate accepting the responsibility for the task and the delegator retaining the accountability for the task.  The delegate needs the responsibility in order to make decisions and carry out the task effectively but the delagator will always ultimately be the one who is accountable – as they should be for any work carried out by their colleagues.

Delegation Checklist

  1. Be clear before delegating
    • What is the task?
    • Who is the most suitable individual?
    • What results are expected and how will they be measured?
    • What is the timescale?
    • What additional training or support will be needed?
  2. Brief the individual
    • Reasons for the task
    • The objectives
    • Timescales
    • Quality of work needed
    • Define levels of authority
    • Agree on lines of communication during the task
  3. Provide extra resources if needed
    • People
    • Information
    • Equipment
  4. Inform others
    • In your department
    • In other departments
  5. Monitor / Review / Feedback
    • Review regularly – but do not interfere!
    • Offer advice and support where requested
    • Keep the task delegated by talking through problems
    • Help delegate to find their own solutions
  6. Mistakes
    • Should be rare if tasks are effectively delegated
    • Usually are due to:
      • lack of information
      • tasks not controlled
      • delegate not having required skills
    • Should be viewed as a learning opportunity for both delegate and manager
  7. Final Review
    • Was the task successful?
    • What problems arose?
    • How were these tackled?
    • What did the individual learn?
    • What did you learn?

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