Wednesday, January 05, 2011

How to Decide When to Delegate

As Project Managers and operational managers, we often wonder when it is best to delegate work.

Sometimes there are benefits and drawbacks that lie below the surface when making decisions to delegate.

The main points to consider are:
1. The trade off of training, managing, and validating the other persons work Vs. doing it yourself
2. The Trust factors: Your trust of the person and their perception of how you trust them
3. Cross-training: Is there value in someone else knowing how to do this?
4. Management visibility: How visible is the result of this activity to upper management (or the client)

Perhaps answering these questions may help you to know when to delegate:
  • Will it take you longer to explain it to the person and train them so they can do it than for you to just do the work?
  • Do you have a trust issue? Do you feel that the worker is not trustworthy? Maybe there is a larger issue requiring discussion?
  • Do you have an issue with trusting someone else to do this work?
  • Is this person the type that needs lots of interaction? Will they require you to be involved heavily?
  • Would this task take lots of time for you (or someone) to validate it was done correctly?
  • How will the results reflect on your performance? If this is a highly visible activity, perhaps you want to do it yourself?
  • Or, perhaps would delegating it to show your ability to delegate?
  • Will delegating the task to someone show your trust in them? Will it generate a positive response in your person because they see you trusting them?
  • Will the training yield other benefits? Will they learn more about your group?
  • Are there cross-training benefits to them learning?
  • Will this allow them to cover for you if you're not available?
  • What are the implications if the task/activity is done correctly? Really well? Or, not correctly?
  • How long would it take for me to do the work compared to how long it would take for me to train the new person and then for that person to do this work (and for me to check the end product)?
  • Is this work something that will have to be done again? I.e. is it repeatable/repetitious?
I hope this helps. I would like to hear your input/comments on questions you ask yourself and ways you determine when it's best to delegate.

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