Delegating Tasks: 5 Things Supervisors Need to Know | SOS Podcast

Delegating Tasks: 5 Things Supervisors Need to Know | SOS Podcast


Delegation benefits both supervisors and employees. Unfortunately, it’s a management practice not used nearly as often as it could or should be. In this episode, SOS Host Joe White discusses the value associated with effective delegation and offers suggestions for how to begin delegating tasks successfully.



Episode Transcript


Joe White:

"The first rule of management is delegation. Don't try and do everything yourself because you can't." This quote by Anthea Turner is a great segue into our discussion today. Join us as we explore the topic of delegation.

Hello and thank you for joining us. My name is Joe White. I'm the host of Supervisor Skills, Secrets of Success. The SOS podcast series is produced to create ongoing development opportunities for mid and frontline managers. With each episode, we take on topics of interest, and share insights and perspectives for the benefit of our listeners.

In today's SOS short episode, we're talking about delegation. We're going to be discussing what it is, why it's important, and sharing some thoughts on how to actually do it. While the practice of delegation has been around for many years, its application has likely never been more fitting than it is today. I hope we can share some thoughts and ideas over the next few minutes that you'll be able to benefit from in your job.

Delegation is a controlled sharing of authority. It's a technique used by managers to pass along tasks to direct reports, capable of performing them. It has two primary benefits: (1) it frees up time for managers to work on other more important things; (2) it gives employees an opportunity to learn new skills and demonstrate capabilities beyond those in their job description.

As a point of distinction and clarity, delegation is a controlled sharing of authority, key word being, controlled. While managers can and should share authority for performing some tasks, they must ultimately maintain responsibility for, and ownership of, the results. For delegation to work it often requires follow up in the form of coaching and support. Those that do it, and do it well, recognize the importance of helping employees have a successful experience with it. In a quote, Steven Sinofsky once said, "When you delegate work to a team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives."

While delegation has many benefits, it's particularly important for small businesses with limited resources. It's consistently cited as the key to success from many top performing business owners and managers. If you're looking for something that can help both you and your top performing employees, there are a few things you can do that are more beneficial. That said, a lot of managers struggle to delegate tasks. According to a London business school study, only 30% of managers feel they delegate effectively. Primary reasons given by managers for not delegating more include: they don't believe the employee can do the task or they can do it as well as they can, they'll be perceived as being lazy, not capable of performing requirements of their job, or they don't really know how to delegate, or have never done it, or have no experience with it.


So how do you delegate? Is there a process? And if so, what does it look like? Well, here are five suggestions in the event that you would like to give it a shot:

1. Identify work that can be delegated.

Look for repetitive or recurring tasks, administrative duties like data entry, or anything you have responsibility for that could be done by higher performing employees.

2. Recognize employees capable of performing the tasks.

The list should include high potential or highly engaged employees, anyone wanting opportunities for growth and development, or someone you may simply want to challenge.

3. Provide employees with the guidance and direction needed to succeed.

What does a task or job entail? What are the steps involved? Are there performance expectations? And if so, what are they? Are there time limitations or constraints involved? Employees receiving a delegated task will likely have little to no experience with it, make sure they're fully prepared and set up for success.


4. Offer support.

Coaching employees assuming delegated task should be expected. Reinforce expectations as needed and provide feedback as a means of helping improve performance outcomes.

5. Provide positive feedback.

Show value and appreciation for a job well done, any progress or growth in performance, and the employee's willingness to learn new skills.

Delegation is one of the most important tools you have available to develop high potential employees. It's also a great way to free up some of your time so that you can work on other, more pressing items. The process of delegating tasks isn't difficult and it gets easier with time. For anyone considering it, start small and do everything possible to create a successful experience with it. The benefits far outweigh the risks, and the need for it has never been greater.

Thank you for joining us. I hope this information will help you grow and improve as a supervisor. We look forward to sharing additional podcasts with you in the months ahead, and welcome any suggestions you might have for topics you would like to see us cover. We're always looking for guests and enjoy sharing insights and success stories from the field. If that's something you would like to be a part of, just let us know.

The SOS podcast series is brought to you by AEU LEAD, the consultancy dedicated to the needs of mid and frontline managers. We value and appreciate any feedback, and would encourage you to review and rate your experience with this show wherever you access your podcasts. For additional information about AEU LEAD or to follow us on social media, please use the links in the show notes accompanying this episode. That's it for now. Stay safe and thanks for listening.

About Joe White

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.


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