Friday, August 21, 2009

One's Beliefs Determines One's Willingness to Delegate

Perhaps one of the most difficult things for some managers to do is to delegate tasks to subordinates, particularly those tasks that are of high importance or entail great risk to the manager.

Delegation requires a manager to have trust, confidence and belief in the abilities of an employee to carry out a task to its successful completion. A manager must believe the person delegated to is fully capable of performing the task (competence) and that the task will actually be done (predictability). Managers often don’t delegate a task to someone else because they lack the confidence the task will be done as well as they could do it themselves.

To delegate a task to another person a manager must consciously understand the unconscious elements that play into every delegation. Before the manager can “let go” of an assignment, she must have certain “beliefs” about the person to whom she is delegating.

The first element is a Competence Belief. A manager must believe the person is capable of performing the task as directed at the level expected. This includes the assurance the individual has the skills, knowledge and ability to perform the expected result.

Having the skills to do a task, and having a willingness to do it, are two different things. Consequently, the manager must also have a Disposition Belief that the employee is not only able to perform the task, but disposed to perform as expected. The employee must be eager and willing to take on the responsibilities. If the employee is in any way hesitant or reluctant, the manager will be less inclined to believe the task will be completed properly.

Hence, the manager also needs a Fulfillment Belief that the individual will carry out the action by actually doing it. To fulfill a responsibility, an employee must have the ability, disposition, time, and resources to complete the task as expected.

This Persistence Belief gives the manager the added sense that the employee will stick to the task and do whatever is necessary to get it done in a timely manner.

Three additional beliefs that play into effective delegation are ones the employee must harbor in order to accept the delegated responsibility. Managers must consider these additional beliefs when delegating to an employee.

First, the employee must have a Self-Confidence Belief in his own abilities to perform the task as expected. He must confidently know, or believe, he can do it.

Second, there must be a Benefit Belief regarding the delegated task. The employee must perceive there is a personal benefit from his action. Some type of payoff must be dependent upon the satisfactory completion of the task and have significant enough appeal to the employee to generate his commitment to the task.

Finally, the employee must perceive, consciously or unconsciously, a No-Harm Belief. He must feel the task is within his scope of responsibility and that no harm will come to him, his boss, or his company if, for some reason, he fails in the successful completion of the task. Risk aversion is one of the primary reasons why employees fail to take on greater responsibility. Managers who can tolerate failure on the road to success have a greater propensity to delegate more.

True delegation might be better understood by using the term reliance in place of delegation. To delegate effectively a manager must be able to rely on another individual to perform the task as expected. A manager can only delegate to an employee when she feels he is reliable enough to do it right.

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