March 20, 2018 8:06:00 AM EDT

5 Ways to Encourage Managers to Delegate Authority

Organizational Effectiveness

5 Ways to Encourage Managers to Delegate Authority

Do your managers work 80 hour weeks, while their employees struggle to fill the day? Do your new managers still behave like the all-star individual contributors they were before they were promoted? These are common symptoms of a broader issue of delegation.

You know if they were able to allocate tasks they would have more time to focus on planning, analysis and generating new ideas and improvements. The value you place on your managers is more than just checking items off a list. You want to encourage them to manage their teams effectively, develop their employees’ skills and abilities and focus their time on high value-add tasks.

Here are some tips for encouraging this important skill in your managers:


1. Show them the benefits of delegation.

Everyone has heard that delegation is beneficial, so telling your managers that won’t make an impact. Show them the value of delegating their tasks with problem-solving exercises. Let them experience what it is to feel powerless to make their own work related decisions. Have them try to create solutions to a problem without access to company experts. Repeat the same problem solving with assistance from experienced players and show how much of a difference it makes


2. Entrust them with more responsibility and increased staff.

One of the most obvious things you can do to encourage your managers to delegate is to delegate to them yourself. Managers look to their superiors for guidance. Seeing you delegate to them and others will encourage the same behavior. Also, if they have more tasks and more people to manage it will make delegating even more vital. They will learn that they, and their team, can get more done by sharing tasks and responsibilities when able.


3. Foster an egalitarian culture.

A company’s organizational structure makes a big impact on delegation. If individual advancement is encouraged more than teamwork and achievement of shared goals then managers will be less likely to relinquish control. When status symbols are bestowed on individuals and overvalued managers are more likely to play the hero, and horde rewards for themselves. You get the same results when driven by fear, if a manager fears the results of a failed task; they are less likely to trust others to do it for them.


4. Hire managers with delegation skills.

The best way to acquire managers who delegate is to hire them. That trait may not be obvious, but there are ways to look. During the interview process, how often does the potential manager say “I” vs “we” or “my team.” You can also ask questions that will highlight delegation skills. Ask them to talk about a successful project they completed with others and about their previous team. If they speak highly of their employees, they likely were comfortable delegating. However, if there is a lot of negativity placed on those workers, it may be a red flag for their delegation skills.


5. Stress the notion of situational leadership.

In a perfect world, managers would be able to delegate every task they want to every one of their team members. Unfortunately, team members have a combination of readiness and willingness to take on tasks; managers can use situational leadership when determining the work to delegate and to whom it will be delegated. To ensure that your managers are setting themselves up for success, encourage them to regularly take stock of their team members' ability to take on tasks when considering to whom they should be delegating. Some team members will be able to run with minimal direction, whereas some need a higher touch; understanding which approach to use will help managers work more efficiently.

Looking for more helpful tips to delegate authority and hold your team accountable?  Connect with us at Aspirant or download our new ebook!


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Judy partners with executives and leadership teams to engage and inspire employees in a way that delivers sustainable strategic results. She brings deep expertise and creative ideas to solve organizational effectiveness issues and closely collaborates in a way that builds internal capabilities. Judy has spent over 25 years consulting in a variety of industries, bringing her expertise in behavior to a wide range of organizational issues including organizational behavior change, leadership, change management, culture and engagement.

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