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Increasing Your Comfort Level in Delegating to Employees

Granting Authority

Challenging for a number of managers is giving up a bit of authority when delegating work to employees. They may be “control freaks,” but more than likely they are just afraid something will go wrong. However, if you are going to delegate work to employees, you need to enable them authority to get that work done.

In order to be more comfortable in enabling for authority over delegated work, be sure you understand the employees’ skills in making decisions. How effectively has the employee made decisions in the past? How well thought out are the employee’s decisions? Bad decisions are OK; we all make them, as long as the employee doesn’t make bad decisions all the time. Also, consider how the employee has reacted to bad decisions he has made. Has he acknowledged the issue and corrected it or wiped his hands of it as if it was not his fault?

The less risk involved if something goes wrong, the more leeway a manager may give an employee. If there is risk that the manager is not comfortable with, explain that to the employee and ask them to come to you prior to making a decision so that you and the employee can discuss it together. This assures the employee that you still want his input but also want to be involved in making the final decision.

Certainly important in increasing your comfort level in granting authority for delegated work is establishing clear guidelines and expectations around what the employee can and cannot do/decide. For example, you might enable the employee to reach out throughout the organization to get information needed to complete a project, but ask them to come to you first if they feel they need to get input from external resources (such as clients.) If the employee decides they do want to approach external resources, ask them to come to you with a plan on how they might do so and you and the employee can agree on the plan, or make adjustments to it. This provides the employee with the ability to propose an approach and enables you the comfort level in reviewing and approving that approach before the employee acts upon it.

Delegating work should be able enabling for challenging assignments that helps an employee to develop his skills and take on leadership roles.  But it also requires you, as the manager, to let go and take a bit of risk. By following the best practices above, you can enable for authority for the employee but still feel like you have some control.

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