Merely assigning a task with detailed instructions is not effective delegation. An employee cannot grow without the freedom to make decisions on how the job should be done. Managers must also be aware that only through the conjunction of responsibility and authority can the desired results be achieved. Additionally, a delegate must be held accountable for his or her actions.
After a manager has delegated a task to a subordinate, he or she must not take it back, make changes in the assignment, or redelegate it. This causes great frustration on the part of a subordinate. In fact, the employee may lose motivation and interest in the project, doubting whether he or she will ever be given the opportunity to complete it. When work is repeatedly taken back, the responsibility and authority are reassumed by the manager and delegation has failed.
Transfer of authority gives the delegate power to command resources that might otherwise lie outside his or her control to assure that results meet the manager’s objectives. At a minimum, enough authority must be delegated to allow the subordinate to take the initiative, to keep the project running smoothly in the manager’s absence, and to get the job done on schedule.
Freedom should be given to employees to utilize their ingenuity in problem solving. A manager must be willing to accept that a subordinate will probably not tackle an assignment exactly the way he or she would and that there may be others equally good ways to achieve the desired results.
Managers must be willing to give subordinates freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again. Managers should not, however, leave employees totally on their own and should make it clear that asking for advice will not be taken as a sign of failure.
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CEO, A. E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA. , a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.