by: Harold Taylor

Delegation ranges from minor assignments such as sorting through files to major decision-making that impacts the success of a project or the reputation of your business. In either case, delegation is the process of sharing your job with others and holding those individ¬uals accountable for the successful completion of the tasks assigned.

You cannot hold anyone responsible for carrying out an assignment without also delegating the authority needed to carry out the responsibility assigned. You cannot hold a person responsible for improving the appearance of a company newsletter, for instance, without the auth¬ority to choose the typestyle, choose the colours and revise the layout. Nor can you assign the responsibility of organ¬izing a luncheon without the authority to choose a menu and arrange the seating plan.

The more authority a staff member is given, the less invol¬vement is required on your part, and the greater the burden that is lifted from your shoulders. But the more authority a staff member has, the greater the impact that person has on the success of the business. You must have confidence in the person in order to risk delegating.

And it is a risk, since the delegator must shoulder the blame for a poorly done job even though it may be someone else’s error. The ultimate responsibility still rests with you.
Yet delegation is the greatest time saver available to business people at all levels. It frees time for more important tasks, allows you to plan more effectively and helps relieve the pressure of too many jobs, too many deadlines and too little time. Delega-tion actually extends results from what you can do personally to what you can control. It is also the most effective way of developing staff members. When you are delegating, you are working smarter, not harder.

Managers offer many reasons for not delegating. They don’t have time to train others. Their staff can’t do it as well or as quickly as they can. They’re afraid of the consequences of a major error. But in most cases these reasons are simply excuses. Sure it will take time to train people. However, every hour invested now will bring you hundreds of free hours in the future. It’s unlikely their staff members can do as good a job as they can. But how about when the managers first started? They weren’t always as good at their jobs as they are now.

Be willing to accept less at first. As people become more experienced, the workmanship will improve. They’ll make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. But that’s the price you have to pay in order to free up your time, develop our staff members, and expand your effectiveness.
What jobs should you delegate? A good starting place is to list all the jobs you do on a recurring basis, no matter how small. They all take time, even though they may not relate to a specific project. Then look for those jobs that take the biggest chunks of time. If they require little training, great. But if you must train them first, schedule time to do so. Perhaps a half hour each day or two hours each week. Set the time aside and stick to a regular schedule. Time you spend now will pay big dividends later as it frees up time for you to spend on the more profitable tasks and projects.

You won’t want to delegate critical jobs that can only be done successfully at your level in the organization; nor jobs that involve confidential informa¬tion. But there are probably many jobs that someone else could do for you with little or no training.

Managers get things done through other people. Manager plan, organize, staff, direct, control and innovate. But what managers should never do is get bogged down in jobs that someone else in the organization could do in their place.

Delegation is one strategy that is essential if you want to stay on top of your job. And it will be discussed at a Lunch ‘N Learn session in the future. Check out the Chamber website for upcoming events.

Harold L Taylor, owner of, is a member of the Sussex & District Chamber of Commerce and a columnist with the Kings County Record,

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