The Ability to Delegate

Management has little to do with perfect solutions; it’s all about finding the best possible compromise. This might come across an unusually negative view for the Pocket Progress Coach, but if work were about perfection, we wouldn’t need managers.

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The best possible compromise

The ability to delegate is the ability to enable sustainable Growth. If there is one challenge which faces most young and many experienced managers, it is knowing when and how to meet the right compromise.

In fact, I would guess that about 75% of all managers I work with, both young and old, would significantly increase their own performance and the progress of their company by investing more time in the mechanics of delegation.

Whether it’s the cost-quality trade off or the “do it yourself if you want it done right” attitude, we need managers to force progress by making decisions which lead to action.

Some people work well, whilst the others work longer

The kind of people who get promoted are often the kind of people who have always walked the extra mile to get the job done, have gone above and beyond to satisfy customers and have done all in their powers to deliver on target.

But managing is not about doing and so begins the age-old challenge we call delegation. Peter Drucker taught us “the most important part of management is managing yourself” and I often tell managers who are proud of how late they leave the office every night that “some people work well, whilst the others work longer”.

Some try to convince me that the problem is that their employees are not doing there job, so they have to do more. These managers have missed the point that doing the job the employee should complete also means the manager is not performing his task.

What is important

The Eisnhower Matrix tells us to delegate unimportant tasks, but how do you define important?

As with so many change topics, learning to delegate is about moving outside your personal comfort zone, which is another way of describing becoming a risk-taker. Children are masters of change because they are prepared to take risks.

In this case being a risk-taker is synonymous with trusting others.

The secret is to manage your risk conciously

Of course it is not all about the manager. Employees also have a very personal comfort zone defining how much risk they willingly take without asking their manager for a second opinion or to sign-off their actions. However it is the manager who must ensure that the employee’s actions are aligned with the manager’s expectation.

Now “risk” is such a common word, that it has lost its meaning and I truly believe this is a key-factor hindering some managers powers of delegation, so I have created the matrix in the attached risk to help people make conscious decisions.

In Summary: There are two significant facts about delegation

  • The manager is always responsible to set clear boundaries regarding how much risk their team should take on their own.
  • A manger who sets this trust-boundary too low will become a bottle-neck to their department and therfore restrict their company's growth.

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