Done properly, delegation can be very empowering. It is a key leadership function that builds on the valued friendship, cooperation and support of the work team. When fully empowered, members of a work team have a great deal of autonomy and work out many issues for themselves. If it is a high-performing team, it will have synergy and its members will be competent and willing. Teams like this don’t need anyone to tell them what to do. The team leader guides them, using a questioning approach to help team members work things out for themselves.
Team leaders who are trying to develop fully empowered work teams would probably avoid giving instructions about how to carry out a certain task or undertake a project. Instead, they delegate by communicating the desired outcomes and help team members decide how to proceed.
However, the road to full empowerment is a long one and most team leaders are still expected to give work instructions along that road.
The Importance of Delegation
Some team leaders resist delegating. They:
- Don’t want to spend the time training the team members or they don’t trust them to do the job to the required standard.
- Fear letting go or losing control, or worry that passing on knowledge will weaken their power base or value to the organisation.
- Use easy tasks as relaxation or as a way to avoid doing other, more difficult parts of their job.
Delegation will give you time to look ahead and to plan your work and your team’s work more effectively. It can free you from details, giving you time to provide coaching and mentoring, including feedback on performance; monitor the bigger picture and be sure that your team is operating smoothly; that output is integrated and synchronised; and that you are achieving your key objectives effectively and efficiently.
From the team members’ point of view, delegating can give them a way to participate and to enrich their jobs. It is a great way to acknowledge, develop, train and coach people. Sharing your knowledge and skills and giving additional responsibilities can be a great motivator.