Managers organise work so that it can be done effectively and efficiently by other people. By planning for smooth, coordinated workflow, managers are able to delegate tasks, allocate resources, and share appropriate responsibility and authority.
The principles and practices of delegation are well understood: Describe a task, specify the expected outcome, detail the operating parameters, allocate resources, and specify who has authority and responsibility for what.
Managers might use proven techniques to delegate, but the results often fall short of what they wanted. Here are some of the reasons why delegating responsibility and authority fails:
- manager and ‘delegate’ have different understandings without realising it
- delegate lacks interest in the required activities
- delegate is unable to structure or manage time
- manager adds more tasks, changes parameters, disrupts focus, effort and flow
- delegate has no expectation of personal satisfaction
- delegate is unable to think things through to achieve the desired result
- communications are confused: crossed-wires, misunderstandings, breakdowns
- delegate takes inappropriate action, doesn’t follow through
- delegate loses sight of objectives, muddles priorities, doesn’t make the most of resources
This simply tells us that delegation, like anything else, breaks down because of people’s behaviours.