Effectively Delegating Authority Is Fundamental to Management Success
Every manager is faced with the decisions during the process of effective delegation to determine what level of authority to grant as part of the assignment. This is a very important process because too much authority can create over-reach and too little authority granted may result in unsatisfactory execution. While there are a number of skills and levels to delegating authority, the manager can start with 3 basic questions.
What level of authority, if appropriate to grant, would be needed to complete the assignment effectively? The manager needs to think about what he or she would need if they had to do the work.
- What is the experience level of the employee under consideration for the assignment? If they are inexperienced or have not successfully completed a similar tasks, the level of authority granted may need to be limited or conditional.
- How frequently does the manager want feedback or status reports on the use of the authority? The less experienced the employee granted the authority the more frequent the feedback requirements.
The Act of Delegating Authority Is a Powerful Form of Empowerment
These basic points form the starting point for how best to delegate authority. Remember, delegating authority is a form of empowerment. It is an important tool in managing people and in their development. Most managers seem to air on the side of too much caution. If the right controls and check-points are outlined, the manager should be able to provide the authority for the employee to do the work.
When applying the assignment of authority method to a newer employee or manager, the basic technique is to simply outline what we like to call the “authority fence.” This means you set the parameters within which the employee has basic freedom to operate and carry out their delegated assignment. For this level of employee, the basic rule is that any action or activity that comes up and would require crossing outside the tighter parameters established must be cleared with the assigning manager.
Earned Trust Increases the Level of Empowerment
Each successive episode of delegating a task that included the assignment of some level of authority and freedom, that is accomplished without a hitch, sets a new level of authority that might be assigned for a similar project in the future to that employee. This is the “earned trust” philosophy. The “authority fence” for a more experienced and proven employee can have one or more gates in in the fence. For example, the managers says “if this changes use your judgement and come to me if you need help but if that changes you need to check with me first.”
The greatest indication of a highly successful manager is the number of employees the manager develops who are empowered to work on their own. That trust, when earned, builds strong and self-reliant employees. This is the hall mark of the best managers.
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