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Published on May 12, 2020

Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

Delegation of Authority: The Complete Guide for Effective Leaders

Do you absolutely hate failing?

Well, you’re in luck because today, you’ll learn the art of how to tackle failure in your work life.

The magic trick is called delegation of authority.

Failure is usually a result of excess burden. When you take on more than you can, you are unable to perform well even if you have the expertise to do it perfectly. It’s demotivating, a waste of time, and extremely annoying.

Let’s take a deep look into the delegation of authority to figure out how to make the most of it.

What Does It Mean to Delegate Authority?

Delegating authority is neither magic nor rocket science. It is exactly what it means: division of workload and distribution of power.

Now, this is where most superiors get worried. They misunderstand the idea and believe that distribution will take away their authority.

Here’s the thing, the division and distribution of authority are like giving the entire team autonomy over their own job. But their control is limited to just that.

The superior still has supremacy over all the employees.

Authority delegation minimizes the workload of the superior. This work is broken down into smaller tasks and spread out into a team so that one every member works simultaneously to finish the project in a shorter time.

3 Elements of Delegating Authority

The delegation of authority has three elements:

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1. Assigning Responsibility

This is the first step in the process. A person who is in charge, such as a manager or a team leader, assigns other team members certain tasks that have to be completed in a given period. Of course, this is only possible if the superior has more control and authority in the work environment than the subordinates.

2. Granting Authority

The next step is to give the subordinates enough authority for them to fulfill their assigned task.

So, let’s say you are a supervisor who allocated one person in your team to do a certain task. This assignment will be useless to you if the subordinate has to come to you every step of the way to get permission and signatures required to fulfill the allocated job.

Unless you’re giving authority, you aren’t delegating. Instead, you’re only assigning a task and that won’t bring you any benefits.

Also, granting authority puts the subordinate in-charge. This person is now responsible for doing what they’re assigned however they like. It is up to them how they tackle obstacles. All that you, as the supervisor, should be concerned about are the final results.

3. Maintaining Accountability

There’s always a risk that some team members may not act responsibly, especially when they have been given authority over the assigned task. This is why you have to make every employee or team member accountable.

The superior must always have 100% right to ask the responsible person about their task. Creating an accountability culture in a company is important, and accountability goes upwards in the hierarchy of a work environment. Never offer any leniency in this regard if you want to ensure quality outputs.

This step of giving and receiving feedback helps improve the future work ethic immensely.[1]

Why Is It Important to Delegate Authority?

A lot of times, superiors take on all the duties because they have a hard time trusting someone else to do the job as well as they would do themselves.

That’s a valid concern, and it may keep you from getting the most out of authority delegation.

But, with this risk comes a long list of benefits. It is actually important to delegate authority for the betterment of your organization and team.

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Superiors Can Perform Better

The most important benefit of delegating authority is that superiors get the time to do their actual job.

As a supervisor, your first duty is to maintain the flow of your team. With your workload minimized and more time at hand, you can pay attention to the minor details.

It gives supervisors the time to look at the more important stuff. Simultaneously, they get a chance to test which team members are most efficient.

In case of any problem, the delegator has enough room in their schedule to sit down to figure out a solution.

All in all, it leads to a more efficient performance from the supervisor’s side.

Subordinates Learn With the Flow

With a degree of authority in their hand, the subordinates begin to feel useful and important. This feeling is the most important route to improvement.

As your subordinates work independently, they not only improve their existing skills, but they also perform better. Since they are ones in control, they are the only ones accountable for everything they put at the table. This sense of responsibility provides the mandatory boost of motivation.[2]

Moreover, with authority delegation, the superiors and subordinates work on the same level to a certain extent. This allows the team members to learn from their supervisors while also polishing their knowledge practically.

Leads to Better Relationships

If you’re in charge of any team, work as a manager, or own an organization that you run, you already know why employee-employer relationships are vital.

The same applies to every workgroup.

So, even if you’re just one small group of 5 people in a multi-national organization, the rules are coherent. You should deal with the group of 5 as your employees and you act as the employer. This is in terms of relationship building.

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By letting go of some responsibilities and giving individuals a chance to grow, you’re spreading positive work vibes. It all works in a cycle where you give the team some authority, they feel important and outperform, your trust in them strengthens, and you continue to delegate authority moving forward.

5 Tips to Delegate Authority Effectively

There is a whole mechanism that supports the delegation of authority.

If done right, this concept has numerous advantages. However, the key is that it’s done right.

1. Choose the Best Person

It’s not easy to trust another person to do something that you would have preferred to do yourself. That is why it is crucial that you only delegate a task to someone that you have full faith in.

The easiest way to do this is to pre-asses every team member’s skills and qualities. In your mind, have a clear idea of who does what best. So, if there is one particular individual who excels at technology, you will know where to go every time there’s a job related to that skill.

Once you’re satisfied with who is in control, more than half of the issue is resolved and things will most likely go smoothly.

2. Offer Enough Autonomy

One huge mistake you may make is to break down tasks way too much.

Let’s say your team of 10 people has to arrange an office party for 100 people. You have to manage the location, decorations, food, and furniture.

You can either assign 4 individuals each of the 4 main jobs, or you can divide each component further into small tasks.

In the case of the latter, tasks will overlap, things will get confusing, and none of your team members will have full control over their assigned task.

This generally leads to a final result that is extremely non-coherent.

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3. Clear Communication

A major aspect of delegation is the availability of clear instructions. From details of the task to deadlines, the person who has to fulfill the job should be clear on every single detail.

Unless they know what’s expected from them, they will never be able to satisfy the delegator.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Pressure

Yes, diamonds only form after the charcoal is put under immense pressure. But honestly, you don’t need to implement that strategy in your work environment when delegating authority.

Offer plenty of time and flexibility for each individual to be able to offer their best performance.

Some people may work better under pressure. But in that case, let the individual make that decision for themselves.

5. Offer a Helping Hand

Just because you’ve given someone else the task and power does not mean you have to back off completely.

In fact, you should try to be a part of the process but only from outside a defined boundary. This is something you’ll have to figure out practically as per the needs of your work environment.

The important point is that if someone you delegated a task to is facing an issue, do not refuse to help. Offer advice and support readily so that your team can learn from you. It will end up benefiting your organization.

Final Thoughts

Conclusively, it is safe to say that delegation of authority is truly a very helpful technique to adopt in workplaces. It allows for a positive working environment as well as fruitful results.

It’s something that all leaders should implement to achieve a time-efficient and productive workspace!

More on the Importance of Delegation

Featured photo credit: Dylan Gillis via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

How to Give Constructive Feedback in the Workplace

We all crave constructive feedback. We want to know not just what we’re doing well but also what we could be doing better.

However, giving and getting constructive feedback isn’t just some feel-good exercise. In the workplace, it’s part and parcel of how companies grow.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Constructive Feedback Is Critical

A culture of feedback benefits individuals on a team and the team itself. Constructive feedback has the following effects:

Builds Workers’ Skills

Think about the last time you made a mistake. Did you come away from it feeling attacked—a key marker of destructive feedback—or did you feel like you learned something new?

Every time a team member learns something, they become more valuable to the business. The range of tasks they can tackle increases. Over time, they make fewer mistakes, require less supervision, and become more willing to ask for help.

Boosts Employee Loyalty

Constructive feedback is a two-way street. Employees want to receive it, but they also want the feedback they give to be taken seriously.

If employees see their constructive feedback ignored, they may take it to mean they aren’t a valued part of the team. Nine in ten employees say they’d be more likely to stick with a company that takes and acts on their feedback.[1]

Strengthens Team Bonds

Without trust, teams cannot function. Constructive feedback builds trust because it shows that the giver of the feedback cares about the success of the recipient.

However, for constructive feedback to work its magic, both sides have to assume good intentions. Those giving the feedback must genuinely want to help, and those getting it has to assume that the goal is to build them up rather than to tear them down.

Promotes Mentorship

There’s nothing wrong with a single round of constructive feedback. But when it really makes a difference is when it’s repeated—continuous, constructive feedback is the bread and butter of mentorship.

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Be the change you want to see on your team. Give constructive feedback often and authentically, and others will naturally start to see you as a mentor.

Clearly, constructive feedback is something most teams could use more of. But how do you actually give it?

How to Give Constructive Feedback

Giving constructive feedback is tricky. Get it wrong, and your message might fall on deaf ears. Get it really wrong, and you could sow distrust or create tension across the entire team.

Here are ways to give constructive feedback properly:

1. Listen First

Often, what you perceive as a mistake is a decision someone made for a good reason. Listening is the key to effective communication.

Seek to understand: how did the other person arrive at her choice or action?

You could say:

  • “Help me understand your thought process.”
  • “What led you to take that step?”
  • “What’s your perspective?”

2. Lead With a Compliment

In school, you might have heard it called the “sandwich method”: Before (and ideally, after) giving difficult feedback, share a compliment. That signals to the recipient that you value their work.

You could say:

  • “Great design. Can we see it with a different font?”
  • “Good thinking. What if we tried this?”

3. Address the Wider Team

Sometimes, constructive feedback is best given indirectly. If your comment could benefit others on the team, or if the person whom you’re really speaking to might take it the wrong way, try communicating your feedback in a group setting.

You could say:

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  • “Let’s think through this together.”
  • “I want everyone to see . . .”

4. Ask How You Can Help

When you’re on a team, you’re all in it together. When a mistake happens, you have to realize that everyone—not just the person who made it—has a role in fixing it. Give constructive feedback in a way that recognizes this dynamic.

You could say:

  • “What can I do to support you?”
  • “How can I make your life easier?
  • “Is there something I could do better?”

5. Give Examples

To be useful, constructive feedback needs to be concrete. Illustrate your advice by pointing to an ideal.

What should the end result look like? Who has the process down pat?

You could say:

  • “I wanted to show you . . .”
  • “This is what I’d like yours to look like.”
  • “This is a perfect example.”
  • “My ideal is . . .”

6. Be Empathetic

Even when there’s trust in a team, mistakes can be embarrassing. Lessons can be hard to swallow. Constructive feedback is more likely to be taken to heart when it’s accompanied by empathy.

You could say:

  • “I know it’s hard to hear.”
  • “I understand.”
  • “I’m sorry.”

7. Smile

Management consultancies like Credera teach that communication is a combination of the content, delivery, and presentation.[2] When giving constructive feedback, make sure your body language is as positive as your message. Your smile is one of your best tools for getting constructive feedback to connect.

8. Be Grateful

When you’re frustrated about a mistake, it can be tough to see the silver lining. But you don’t have to look that hard. Every constructive feedback session is a chance for the team to get better and grow closer.

You could say:

  • “I’m glad you brought this up.”
  • “We all learned an important lesson.”
  • “I love improving as a team.”

9. Avoid Accusations

Giving tough feedback without losing your cool is one of the toughest parts of working with others. Great leaders and project managers get upset at the mistake, not the person who made it.[3]

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You could say:

  • “We all make mistakes.”
  • “I know you did your best.”
  • “I don’t hold it against you.”

10. Take Responsibility

More often than not, mistakes are made because of miscommunications Recognize your own role in them.

Could you have been clearer in your directions? Did you set the other person up for success?

You could say:

  • “I should have . . .”
  • “Next time, I’ll . . .”

11. Time it Right

Constructive feedback shouldn’t catch people off guard. Don’t give it while everyone is packing up to leave work. Don’t interrupt a good lunch conversation.

If in doubt, ask the person to whom you’re giving feedback to schedule the session themselves. Encourage them to choose a time when they’ll be able to focus on the conversation rather than their next task.

12. Use Their Name

When you hear your name, your ears naturally perk up. Use that when giving constructive feedback. Just remember that constructive feedback should be personalized, not personal.

You could say:

  • “Bob, I wanted to chat through . . .”
  • “Does that make sense, Jesse?”

13. Suggest, Don’t Order

When you give constructive feedback, it’s important not to be adversarial. The very act of giving feedback recognizes that the person who made the mistake had a choice—and when the situation comes up again, they’ll be able to choose differently.

You could say:

  • “Next time, I suggest . . .”
  • “Try it this way.”
  • “Are you on board with that?”

14. Be Brief

Even when given empathetically, constructive feedback can be uncomfortable to receive. Get your message across, make sure there are no hard feelings, and move on.

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One exception? If the feedback isn’t understood, make clear that you have plenty of time for questions. Rushing through what’s clearly an open conversation is disrespectful and discouraging.

15. Follow Up

Not all lessons are learned immediately. After giving a member of your team constructive feedback, follow it up with an email. Make sure you’re just as respectful and helpful in your written feedback as you are on your verbal communication.

You could say:

  • “I wanted to recap . . .”
  • “Thanks for chatting with me about . . .”
  • “Did that make sense?”

16. Expect Improvement

Although you should always deliver constructive feedback in a supportive manner, you should also expect to see it implemented. If it’s a long-term issue, set milestones.

By what date would you like to see what sort of improvement? How will you measure that improvement?

You could say:

  • “I’d like to see you . . .”
  • “Let’s check back in after . . .”
  • “I’m expecting you to . . .”
  • “Let’s make a dent in that by . . .”

17. Give Second Chances

Giving feedback, no matter how constructive, is a waste of time if you don’t provide an opportunity to implement it. Don’t set up a “gotcha” moment, but do tap the recipient of your feedback next time a similar task comes up.

You could say:

  • “I know you’ll rock it next time.”
  • “I’d love to see you try again.”
  • “Let’s give it another go.”

Final Thoughts

Constructive feedback is not an easy nut to crack. If you don’t give it well, then maybe it’s time to get some. Never be afraid to ask.

More on Constructive Feedback

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

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