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Delegation is a tool that managers can use for a variety of reasons and tasks. When a manager handles the responsibility of delegation properly the result will have a positive ripple throughout the office, the department or the entire company.

Different aspectsThere are different aspects of delegation that will impact the results achieved. One is the willingness of a manager to let go of the task or to delegate. Many managers have been through the seminars that speak of the how to, but putting delegation into practice is more than theory. Vicky Sanderson (2004) wrote about several business managers who worked through the adjustments of delegation. The average manager spends 45 per cent of his or her time on a task that should have been delegated. Some managers have guilt to deal with while others seem unable to find anyone he or she believes can be trusted to do the job right.

Some managers use the reasoning, they must understand the job before they can delegate.

10 steps to successful delegating are listed by Sanderson, tips from Pace Productivity. The steps are: delegate the objective not the procedure; ask for progress reports; delegate to the right person; spread delegation around; obtain feedback; delegate authority along with responsibility; trust people; be prepared for short term errors but long term results; give instructions and ask if there is anything needed to get started; and give praise with feedback.

As an example, at Factory Expo Homes the general manager and sales personnel would make a sale and the general manager would oversee the processing of the orders and tracking the sale through manufacturing and delivery. Some salespeople would hold all the paperwork after the sale of a home yet others did not want the ink to dry before they were looking to hand off responsibilities. The general manager obtained feedback from the salespeople and the office manager and assigned responsibilities were delegated. This delegation was done with the objective of writing procedures for the new office that ensured a smoother flow of the necessary paperwork and communication. As the flow of business begins so does the need for policies and procedures that organize that flow. The office policies and tracking procedures became a critical area. This was delegated to the office manager. The office manager organized and detailed the responsibilities of the salespeople once a home was sold. This allowed the general manager more time to manage the business and the sales personnel more time to do their jobs effectively. This also allowed the office manager to become more effective in tracking the home from time of sale, through manufacture and finally delivery to the customer. Delegation in this case proved to be a valuable tool.

ChallengesWhen a manager is ready to delegate, and has participated in the training needed, what challenges are left? Taking the steps necessary to let go of the task and monitoring the performance of the work. Stanley Portny (2002) wrote about the task of letting go and monitoring the performance. The manager's job is to set the goals and delegate as needed to achieve the goals. The manager must ensure the most capable people are performing the task, enabling the employees to be successful by increasing amounts of responsibility and decision authority while monitoring the performance of their work.

Managers who enjoy the technical work are often reluctant to give up the task, and others still believe that in a crunch they are the only people who can get the job done. When a manager delegates a task, he or she is still responsible for the outcome or final results. This is a challenge if the manager is not comfortable managing the performance of an employee. The manager should define the key tasks and responsibilities of the position then decide if the job is more managerial or tactical. If the task is tactical, it more than likely it can be delegated.

PrepareOnce the decision of delegation is made a good manager must prepare. Different levels of authority can be delegated with the task. Stanley offers the six degrees of delegation to follow. Get in the know; show someone the way to go; go when to do so; go unless told not to; how did it go?; and just go!Get in the know. Get the facts of the task and decide if there is further action needed. If needed ask questions. When delegation is done with clear instruction an employee will excel and succeed. Show someone the way to go. If the task being delegated has optional ways to complete, decide which will have the positive outcome. Go when told to do so. Once the decision is made on which way to perform the task, be prepared to go. Go unless told not to. Review the recommended actions and go unless a decision is made not to go. How did it go? Managers should monitor the actions, answer questions but be careful not to step in and do the task. Just go! Some managers will simply delegate a task and tell the employee to just deal with it, get it done; this has the potential to produce bad results.

FunctionsA manager can make good use of delegation within the four functions of management to maximize an organization. When planning a new office opening the task of resources needed to operate the office could be delegated. The staffing, advertising and promotions could also be delegated. Once the overview of planning is complete the organizing tasks of human resources, office file systems are needed next. Now the manager can begin to lead the new office. The delegation that a manager can use as he or she leads is goal setting. A good manager can delegate the development of goal strategies among the employees and see the initiative take hold. Next the manager must control and coordinate the processes and structures to reach the goals that have been set.

An example of this at Factory Expo Homes can be tracked through the opening of their new office. The planning of the office resources needed was delegated to the operations manager and the new general manager. The initial furniture and computer resources were planned and purchased. The staffing was delegated to the general manager, who hired the office manager. The task of organizing office file systems and human resources were completed next. Once the beginning sales staff was established the general manager began to set goals and lead the staff. The office manager worked to continue the development of advertising materials. Now the general manager coordinates with the sales staff and the office manager to reach the goals set and adjusts systems as needed.

ConclusionManagers that utilize the tool of delegation will see the benefits, not only within their office but at the corporate level. A manager who delegates with purpose will see employees take ownership and pride in the task and become effective in their job.

References:Portny, S. (2002) The delegation dilemma: When do you let go?, Information Management Journal, Lemexa: March/April 2002. Vol. 36, lss 2; Pg 60, 5 pgs. Retrieved March 26, 2007 IndexSanderson, V. (2004) Pass the Ball, Hardware Merchandising, Toronto: March/April 2004. Vol. 116, lss 2; pg 28, 3pgs. Retrieved March 26, 2007