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2 Purposes that Separate Delegating from Dumping

It can be difficult to delegate. When it's your reputation on the line, no one is more reliable than yourself. As a manager, you know it's important to become a good delegator. Still, it's challenging to decide which shifts in responsibility will allow your organization to become as successful as possible.

by F. John Reh
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Most managers don't know how to delegate. That's not really surprising, because no one ever delegated anything to them. How else are they going to learn?

Many times, managers dump their work onto someone else, but there is a big difference between delegating and dumping. When you delegate something to a subordinate it should serve two purposes.

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  • First, it must lighten your load so you can concentrate on more important issues
  • Second, it must help the receiver learn and grow

When you delegate, as opposed to dumping, you give the other person the same authority to complete the task as if you had done it yourself. If the task means signing a requisition, the person to whom you delegated the task must have the same authority to sign that requisition as you have. That doesn't mean you delegate all your authority to that individual, only that you have to give them the authority to do what you would have been able to do. For instance, if you can sign requisitions up to $10,000 and the delegated task means signing a requisition for $2,000, the person to whom you delegated must be able to sign that $2,000 requisition, but not necessarily one for $3,000.

Remember, though, that you can delegate the authority, but you cannot delegate the responsibility. It is up to you to see that the person is adequately trained before you delegate to them and is adequately supervised after you delegate. They won't necessarily do it the same way you would have, and they probably won't do it as well to begin with. That doesn't matter. Keep them from making any major blunders as they get the feel of the task and you will have successfully delegated. You will have lightened your load and you will have helped one of your people develop further.