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To Delegate Or Not

Almost every Supervisory training program spends some time prompting the Participants to “Delegate” tasks to their subordinates. The proposition is that “delegating” tasks to subordinates is a way to grow and develop their staff. And BTW, Delegating is also a way to get tasks off your (the supervisor’s) plate that is over-full.

THEORY Y supervisors see delegating tasks to their subordinates as a sign of RESPECT by the Supervisor toward their subordinates. Tapping into the talent and capabilities of your staff provides an opportunity for the subordinate to perform more than just the basic job tasks of their position. “Delegating” can be a way to identify those workers who have “potential” for growth within the company.

But, like a lot of things in life, not just “work”, the concept of Delegating is very powerful in what it can mean for the Supervisor by lightening the supervisor’s load of some/many of those tasks otherwise performed by the Supervisor. Done well, delegating can also be a supervisory attribute that “engages people more deeply” in their sense of belonging; being a part of their workplace culture.

But, yes another “but”; “delegating can be unproductive and create more work for the Supervisor.

What does that look like? If the tasks and responsibilities delegated to “Joe” are not CLEAR, if “Good” is not defined and articulated, if interim performance follow-ups are not established…YOU might find yourself still performing the “supposed” delegated tasks after all.

Successful use of any new skill/tool includes: Visualizing what you might delegate, planning how you will guide and direct “that Joe person” in their new responsibility, and committing to check-in routinely will increase the likelihood of success.

Delegating is a powerful tool for the Supervisor… when done well.


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