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Delegating for Results
1999, December (February 22, 2007)
By Suzanna Laurent, Director-Sponsor, Region 5

I presented a program recently that gave tips for becoming a more effective delegator. The tips explained the benefits of delegation and how to overcome common barriers. Because you can use these tips whenever you are leading a chapter, a committee, a team, or a department, I want to share them with you. If you are not delegating properly, you are making your own life more difficult. In turn, your subordinates suffer because their interests as well as their talents are being overlooked, however unintentionally.

Some of the benefits you can receive by delegating effectively are:
  • Save your time and energy for other responsibilities.
  • Bring more hands and minds to bear on the problems, which results in making more effective decisions.
  • Improve the skills of individuals and the team productivity as well.
  • Allow others to make contributions that give them self-satisfaction.
  • Add to the overall organization's success by providing more productive people, higher productivity, improved morale, better communication and teamwork, and greater profitability.

Studies indicate that most people want more responsibility, and they want the opportunity to grow and develop. The ways that people to whom you delegate can benefit are:
  • They become more productive and valuable to the organization and team.
  • By learning new things, they improve their self-esteem and skills.
  • They become resources for people who need help and function as backups when needed.
  • They become more knowledgeable and skilled at handling the details and problems of running a team.

You create barriers that prevent you from delegating when you:
  • Prefer to do the work yourself or think no one else can do it as well.
  • Feel a strong need to work at tasks with which you are familiar.
  • Feel threatened by the possibility that someone else might not complete a task for which you are responsible.
  • Fear the loss of power.
  • Delegate without planning - it is very important to set deadlines, explain the task's objectives, and transfer authority.

The people to whom you delegate create barriers too. These hurdles are so prevalent that they have names:
  • Imposition — Since leaders look to their best people for help, they can rely on that person so much that it becomes an imposition.
  • Ignorance — You may need to point out how completing this task could help the person attain a personal goal.
  • Stagnation — Some people just don't want to change; they're in their own niche and want to stay there. They are the "good soldiers" who do what they have to-as long as they're out of the limelight, away from public notice, and performing jobs that can be done quickly and safely.
  • Fear — Some people reject new tasks out of fear. You may have to offer training or mentoring before they will accept a project.
  • Eagerness — Although you don't want to stifle enthusiasm, be aware of the problems created by too much enthusiasm or they can become overloaded. Just as you need the good soldiers, you also need these eager beavers; but you must move them along more slowly, while nurturing their enthusiasm.
  • Power playing — These people accept a delegated task only when there is something they want in return, such as a raise. Power players should be carefully monitored and controlled.

To summarize, delegation is the effective use of human resources. You must know when to back away from competent people and when to intervene if things start to go wrong. Take time now to become a more effective delegator and make your life and the lives of the people around you easier. They will appreciate you for it.

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Articles in the 1999, December issue: