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According to Johannesburg-based business coach, Dr Marlet Tromp, delegating allows leaders to focus on managerial tasks. Furthermore, “by delegating work, leaders empower their employees, giving them recognition, motivation and the opportunity to develop, grow, and influence decisions,” she says. She provides insight into effective delegation.

Delegating pros and cons
Delegating can build trust with your employees and help them to realise their full potential. “Employees also have the opportunity to be trained and prepare themselves for future promotions,” says Dr Tromp. “Through delegation employees are part of the process and can see where they fit into the organisation and how their work contributes”. 

On the other hand, Dr Tromp cautions against “dumping” your workload on unsuspecting employees especially at the last minute. “Delegation should be used in such a way that it acts as a motivator,” she explains.

What to delegate
Choosing what to delegate, and who to delegate it to, can be a challenge. “Leaders must know their staff in terms of their skills and likes and dislikes; work will then be done more effectively,” says Dr Tromp. “The level an employee was appointed at is also a good indication of what kind of work should be delegated and what amount of work the employee can handle”.

Finding a balance
Follow these guidelines to ensure that you do not delegate too much or too little.
• Be specific about the work that must be completed.
• The results must be measurable and realistic.
• Both parties must agree what is expected and what the time frame is.
• The manager must oversee the work and give the necessary support and training.
• Employees must receive feedback on their work.
• Mistakes must be seen as opportunities to train staff.
• Managers should coach their employees in terms of expectations, goals and their responsibilities.
• Employees must have a certain amount of freedom to explore their options, in how they do the task at hand, but it is the manger’s responsibility to set boundaries.

Release need for control
An unwillingness to delegate often suggests a need for control. “Leaders that refuse to delegate are often self-reliant or perfectionists and they don’t want to part with the power their position gives them,” explains Dr Tromp.

Yet, being a leader is about motivating and developing staff. Even if the task is not done to your specifications, use it as an opportunity to train employees. In the long-term delegating allows you to grow as a leader, limits stress and empowers employees.