By Robert M. Morris
The hallmark of good supervision is effective delegation. Delegation is when supervisors give responsibility and authority to subordinates to complete a task. Effective delegation develops people who are ultimately more fulfilled and productive. Managers become more fulfilled and productive themselves as they learn to count on their staffs and are freed up to attend to more strategic issues.
Delegation is often very difficult for new supervisors, particularly if they have had to scramble to start the nonprofit or start a major new service themselves. Many managers want to remain comfortable, making the same decisions they have always made. They believe they can do a better job themselves. They don't want to risk losing any of their power and stature (ironically, they do lose these if they don't learn to delegate effectively). Often, they don't want to risk giving authority to subordinates in case they fail and impair the organization.
However, there are basic approaches to delegation that, with practice, become the backbone of effective supervision and development. Thomas R. Horton suggests the following general steps to accomplish delegation:
1. Delegate the whole task to one person.
This gives the person the responsibility and increases their motivation.
2. Select the right person.
3. Clearly specify the preferred results.
Give information on what, why, when, who, where and how. Write this information down.
4. Delegate responsibility and authority
5. Ask the employee to summarize back to you.
Ask to hear their impressions of the project and the results that you prefer.
6. Get ongoing non-intrusive feedback about progress on the project.
7. Maintain open lines of communication.
8. If the progress is not satisfactory, don't immediately take the project back.
Continue to work with the employee and ensure they perceive the project as their responsibility.
9. Evaluate and reward performance.
Once everything is delegated, what is left for the leader to do? The leader must monitor the tasks that were delegated and continue to develop the staff and help them exercise their authority based on the projects/tasks given to them.
There are managerial functions which the leader should never delegate - these are the personal/personnel ones which are often the most obvious additions to leaderís responsibilities as the managerial role is assumed. Specifically, they include: motivation, training, team-building, organization, praising, reprimanding, performance reviews, promotion. (8)
As a manager and a leader, one has the responsibility to represent and to develop the effectiveness of the group within the company; these are tasks can expand to fill the leaderís available time - delegation is a mechanism for creating that opportunity. (9)
As the information technology field continues its exponential growth, the need for good leadership and management continues to be prevalent and continues to be in demand. To become effective leaders and managers of technology personnel, information technology leaders and managers need to have several essential skills; they must be able to facilitate good communication channels with not just their subordinates but their superiors as well, they should adopt the "Be, Know, Do" philosophy of leadership that is taught in the military (for that leadership tactic breeds loyalty), and they must be able to delegate the proper tasks effectively to ensure completeness of the project/task.
1. Barnard, Chester (1938). The Function of the Executive. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press)
2. Curtis, Dan & Stephens (1986), Ron. The Ideal Entry-Level and Management Profile (Central Missouri State University Research, 1985-1986), 21-25
3. Kline, John A (1988). Speaking Effectively. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press.
4. US Army Field Manual 6-22
5. US Army Field Manual 22-100
7. Horton, T (1992).Delegation and Team Building: No Solo Acts Please. Management Review. 58-61.
8. Blake, R, & Mouton, J (1985). The Managerial Grid III: The Key to Leadership Excellence.Houston: Gulf Publishing Co.
9. Taylor, F (1911). Principles of Scientific Management. New York: Harper and Brothers
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