Delegation versus abdication

Delegation versus abdication

To succeed in business, one of the most important skills you must learn is how to delegate. Delegation allows you to get tasks done without having to chew into too much into your own time and resources.

Many small-business owners struggle to let go of the reins when they take on their first employee. They want things done their way – they struggle to delegate, they micromanage and they end up spending just as long as it would have taken to do it themselves. Eventually, though, when they learn to let go and start to experience the benefits of delegating, it leaves them free to do higher leveraged activities in the business.

Effective delegation is not simply giving the task to someone else. When you simply hand over a task to someone else and forget about it you are abdicating.

Effective delegation is not simply giving the task to someone else. There is much more to it. When you simply hand over a task to someone else and forget about it you are abdicating. As tempting as it may be sometimes, there are many risks and consequences when you abdicate.

What is abdication & why should you avoid it?

Abdication is simply issuing a task to anyone and forgetting about it.

Signs that you are abdicating:

  • you give little (often unclear) information to the person
  • you don’t clarify that they understand, you don’t set deadlines or timeframes
  • your expectations are unclear
  • you don’t plan to review the process.

This is the ‘it’s not my job any more’ attitude.

The issue with abdication is that it causes distrust and a lack of respect. There is little communication, things are not productive, jobs can often get delayed and go over budget, clients get upset and often it means that you won’t get future work.

If you can avoid abdication, either by yourself or your managers, your business will be better off. Instead, try mastering the art of delegation.

What is delegation & why should you encourage it?

Delegation is a more hands-on approach than abdication.

You assess the task at hand and issue it to the right person and provide support for them.

You know that you are delegating effectively when:

  • you can provide specific, crystal-clear instructions that they can repeat back to you
  • it is clear that they have understood
  • you set a timeframe and request clarification once the task has been achieved
  • you take the time to review after the task.

If you delegate this way it builds trust and respect, there is effective communication, productivity increases, jobs are completed within budget and on time and clients are kept happy and want to work with you again in the future.

When done right, delegation is a powerful skill. But like any skill, it does take time to learn and master. Here are some guidelines you can use to help you be more effective at delegating.

  • Clearly define and agree on the task/result.
  • Delegate the task to someone with demonstrated competence.
  • Set up the guidelines/rules and explain the resources available.
  • Have a clear deadline or planned schedule to follow.
  • Ask for questions and feedback, then have the person repeat the instructions back to ensure they understood.
  • Define what you are going to measure to determine if the task is on track and complete 100%.
  • Decide and define what the consequences will be if the task isn’t completed as outlined by the scheduled date.

Using this simple process you will be able to effectively delegate and get the most out of your team.

Rueben Taylor, business mentor and educator