For some people they might think that they are getting it right…While those on the receiving end, are just pulling their hair out! Let’s start with the positives and clarify two definitions!

Delegation: The clearest definition is the passing of authority or work activity to another person to carry out specific tasks. Usually this happens between a Manager and Direct Report. This can happen for a number of reasons…The task does need the level of experience of the person delegating. It could be down to workload but here comes the real benefit…When done properly, it’s a great way to develop and mentor those that are delegated to…But with caveats!

  • A full brief is needed
  • Timescales are given
  • The person receiving has to have the ability with a limited degree of guidance to complete the task
  • The person delegating has to make themselves available (if needed) to answer any key questions
  • Subject to the above, the person receiving will ordinarily become accountable.

Where does it go wrong? Clearly if any of the above fail to happen, and also when delegation becomes abdication, none of the above happen, and the Manager is simply committing a “Dereliction of Duty”.

The other common failing is interference! If the message is clear…The brief and timescale stated…You have made yourself available as needed…Allow the person the opportunity to shine…Don’t then interfere!

Empowerment: This is a different set of skills and perhaps one difference is the suggestion that Managers “delegate” while Leaders “empower”. An empowered workforce can only become that where the business has invested in staff development. Communication is both up and down the structure and critically…”Values and Vision”…of all are clearly aligned.

Delegation can be a useful tool, but may sometimes appear to be “command & control”.

Empowerment however is the creation of a culture of trust and where some degree of decision making is taken away from the traditional line of control.
An empowered organisation is light on its feet and can move quickly…It’s also very Customer Centric. Both can work well…Choose wisely!

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels”.
Eli Broad